390

Spring Heel Jack: Songs and Themes

By

Sign in to view read count
Spring Heel Jack: Songs and Themes Songs and Themes is a visionary fusion of jazz, electronica and chamber music. With its eighth contribution to the Thirsty Ear Records catalog, the production team of Ashley Wales and multi-instrumentalist John Coxon has truly outdone itself. Songs and Themes is ambient and atmospheric while still maintaining a link to the avant-garde.

Songs and Themes is as much trumpeter Roy Campbell's record as it is Coxon and Wales.' Beginning with "Church Music," which marries the psychedlia of Miles Davis' Bitches Brew (Columbia, 1969) with the symphonia of the trumpeter's Sketches of Spain (Columbia, 1959), it's abundantly clear that Campbell will be the featured player throughout. "Dereks" recalls Albert Ayler in a church in Sweden or somewhere, if only in metaphor as much as in memory. "Clara" is a ballad unlike any other—Campbell sings the voice of the tormented lover telling his partner everything she wants to hear, while the backdrop of tortured strings and wandering bass lines tell a much different story.

Whether providing a simple yet engaging backdrop for a featured soloist (saxophonist John Tchicai on "Dereks" and "Silvertone," Campbell on "Eupen") or guiding their ensemble in richly layered jazz-ambience ("With Out Words," "At Long Last") Coxon and Wales are at the top of their game with Songs and Themes.

The production duo does sit out for two tunes, "Folk Players" and "For Paul Rutherford." "Folk Players" is more jarring than the rest of the album, with John Edward's overbearing bass amounting to nothing more than a distraction and truly breaking the ambient flow of the record. "For Paul Rutherford" is in fact, perfect, any future release that pairs Campbell's trumpet with Tony Marsh's drums would be most welcome.

Spiritualized mastermind J Spaceman lends his guitar to "1,000 Yards," where his ultra-distorted strings are mixed at just the right level so as not to be a distraction, and "Garlands," a haunting ode to1970s film score that again features the brilliant Campbell.

To say this album is more tame, more accessible, and more focused than previous SHJ releases on Thirsty Ear Records would all be true—but one thing Songs and Themes is not, is boring. Coxon and Wales exhibit true craftsmanship throughout, showcasing their incredible ear for texture and composition, skillfully arranging so that each line and layer is voiced distinctly, offering something new to focus on with each repeated listen.

Track Listing: Church Music; Dereks; With Out Words; Eupen; For Paul Rutherford; Folk Players; Silvertone; Claraa; 1,000 Yards; Antiphon; At Long Last; Garlands.

Personnel: Roy Campbell, Jr.: trumpet, pocket trumpet, flugelhorn, flute; John Coxon: electric guitar, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, sampler, violin, glockenspiel; John Edwards: double bass; Tony Marsh: drums; Orphy Robinson: vibraphone; John Tchicai: alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Ashley Wales: samples; J. Spaceman: electric guitar; Rupert Clervaux: drums; Mark Sanders: drums.

Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Thirsty Ear Recordings | Style: Fringes of Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Pathways CD/LP/Track Review Pathways
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 30, 2017
Read Landing CD/LP/Track Review Landing
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 30, 2017
Read Words And Music CD/LP/Track Review Words And Music
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 30, 2017
Read Faces CD/LP/Track Review Faces
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 30, 2017
Read Nor Sea, nor Land, nor Salty Waves CD/LP/Track Review Nor Sea, nor Land, nor Salty Waves
by Duncan Heining
Published: April 30, 2017
Read Petite Afrique CD/LP/Track Review Petite Afrique
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 29, 2017
Read "Counteraction" CD/LP/Track Review Counteraction
by Roger Farbey
Published: March 20, 2017
Read "America's National Parks" CD/LP/Track Review America's National Parks
by John Sharpe
Published: November 11, 2016
Read "Umbra" CD/LP/Track Review Umbra
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 31, 2016
Read "The Motorman's Son" CD/LP/Track Review The Motorman's Son
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 18, 2017
Read "Ugly Beautiful" CD/LP/Track Review Ugly Beautiful
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 6, 2017
Read "Richie Cole Plays Ballads & Love Songs" CD/LP/Track Review Richie Cole Plays Ballads & Love Songs
by Jim Trageser
Published: November 25, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!