All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

161

Spring Heel Jack: Live

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Spring Heel Jack, which has spanned a remarkably diverse range of sounds since its coming out in 1995, recently turned toward jazz (or post-jazz) improvisation as a medium for expression. John Coxon and Ashley Wales made one of the greatest electronica records of all time in Busy Curious Thirsty (Trade 2/Island, 1997), but over the course of four records for Thirsty Ear's Blue Series the duo has marked new territory.

Live documents 75 minutes of live performance in Brighton and Bath during late January of 2003. It's important to understand and respect the title of the record, because it has important implications for the contents therein. Rather than nicking at pre-recorded sounds, Spring Heel Jack participates here entirely in the moment, though interestingly enough it's very hard to discern their precise role much of the time. That's fair.

The all-star quintet assembled for this record includes four avant jazzers who need no introduction and one out rocker, guitarist J Spaceman (of the now-defunct group Spacemen 3, among others). Because two of the instruments are electric (Matthew Shipp's Fender Rhodes and J. Spaceman's guitar), the acoustic axis has a dramatic plugged-in counterpoint.

At times (as with the surge ten minutes into "Part II") the hard-hitting intensity of five improvisers all blowing hard morphs these voices into one seething mass of energy. But then at others, like the segment 27 minutes into "Part I," a light swinging groove takes over in the hands of bassist William Parker and drummer Han Bennink. Then some sort of delicate noise like a prepared piano joins Shipp and the pulse fades off, yielding a much softer arena for individual expression. Bennink gets his hands dirty here, though, lest you relax too far into your easy chair.

In the end Live is just as much a study of sound in motion as a series of dramatic contrasts. Take the gentle flute that floats in ten minutes into the first track. According to the personnel listing, the sound belongs to SHJ. But when a Moroccan flute (real or processed?) lends its loud nasal pinch a bit down the road, it spurs pure fire energy and trance. Where did these contrasting twins meet? What does it mean? Don't waste your time on the details. Keep your mind attuned to the group energy and the flow. Seven people on this record make it sound a lot like a big band, and that's saying a lot.

Track Listing: Part 1; Part 2.

Personnel: Han Bennink: drums; Evan Parker: tenor saxophone; William Parker: bass; Matthew Shipp: Fender rhodes; J Spaceman: guitar; Spring Heel Jack (John Coxon and Ashley Wales): all other instruments and electronics.

Title: Live | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Thirsty Ear Recordings

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
 

Mass

Creole Stream Music
2009

buy
Songs And Themes

Songs And Themes

Thirsty Ear Recordings
2008

buy
 

Songs & Themes

Creole Stream Music
2008

buy
Live

Live

Thirsty Ear Recordings
2005

buy
The Sweetness Of The Water

The Sweetness Of The...

Thirsty Ear Recordings
2004

buy
AMaSSED

AMaSSED

Thirsty Ear Recordings
2002

buy

Related Articles

Read with whom you can be who you are CD/LP/Track Review
with whom you can be who you are
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 21, 2018
Read Inner Core CD/LP/Track Review
Inner Core
by Troy Dostert
Published: September 21, 2018
Read Dirigo Rataplan II CD/LP/Track Review
Dirigo Rataplan II
by Jerome Wilson
Published: September 21, 2018
Read The Window CD/LP/Track Review
The Window
by Chris Mosey
Published: September 21, 2018
Read Mønk CD/LP/Track Review
Mønk
by Chris May
Published: September 20, 2018
Read The Music of Gary Lindsay / Are We Still Dreaming CD/LP/Track Review
The Music of Gary Lindsay / Are We Still Dreaming
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 20, 2018
Read "Ghost Box" CD/LP/Track Review Ghost Box
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 31, 2018
Read "Veterans of Jazz" CD/LP/Track Review Veterans of Jazz
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 22, 2017
Read "Err Guitar" CD/LP/Track Review Err Guitar
by Don Phipps
Published: December 4, 2017
Read "Flying" CD/LP/Track Review Flying
by Paul Rauch
Published: August 10, 2018
Read "Reclamation" CD/LP/Track Review Reclamation
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 18, 2017
Read "Look To The Sky" CD/LP/Track Review Look To The Sky
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 13, 2018