Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

255

Spring Heel Jack: Songs and Themes

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
Named after a character from Victorian folklore, Spring Heel Jack (the English electronic duo of John Coxon and Ashley Wales) has vaulted across stylistic divides with the same ease that witnesses attributed to the legendary figure. Undergoing a gradual aesthetic transformation over the past decade, they have expanded from experimental drum 'n bass duo to innovators in a genre of their own devising: free-ambient.

Since the turn of the Millennium, their recordings have featured appearances by such notable free jazz icons as Tim Berne, Evan Parker, William Parker, Paul Rutherford, Matthew Shipp, Wadada Leo Smith, John Surman and Kenny Wheeler.

Songs and Themes, their eighth album for Thirsty Ear Records, features another stellar cast, including trumpeter Roy Campbell and saxophonist John Tchicai. A dusky aural journey through soundscapes ranging from the pastoral to the urban, this is their most accessible and harmonious record to date.

Beautifully recorded at Abbey Road studios, the understated session unfolds episodically, knitting somber transitory themes and subtly tense interludes with judicious restraint. Cinematic in scope, the album weaves an effervescent mosaic of shimmering vibes, lush synth washes, and plangent horns driven by reverberating bass and sporadic percussion.

Campbell and Tchicai ply mournful tones and lyric refrains from their horns across rich sonic landscapes, with Campbell as the primary voice. His tender phrasing on "With Out Words" sets the stage for the majority of the album, eliciting soaring cadences that drift effortlessly into the ether. Campbell and Tchicai engage in a melancholy but animated duet on the lengthy "At Long Last," warily navigating an ominous neo-classical setting.

Passages of assertiveness are rare, but not absent. John Edwards' abrasive arco bass dominates "Folk Players," while guitarist J Spaceman (Spaceman 3, Spiritualized) unleashes a torrent of caustic feedback on the dramatic "1,000 Yards," bolstering Campbell's plaintive cries on the anthemic closer, "Garlands."

Seamlessly blending textural dissonances and rubato rhythms with aching lyricism and bittersweet harmonies, Song and Themes offers a level of emotional commitment and structural sensitivity that other electro-acoustic artists can aspire to.


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.

Title: Songs And Themes | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Thirsty Ear Recordings


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns CD/LP/Track Review Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Song of No Regrets CD/LP/Track Review Song of No Regrets
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Sounding Tears CD/LP/Track Review Sounding Tears
by John Sharpe
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Lighthouse CD/LP/Track Review Lighthouse
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Kill The Boy CD/LP/Track Review Kill The Boy
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Rain or Shine CD/LP/Track Review Rain or Shine
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 15, 2017
Read "Slow Learner" CD/LP/Track Review Slow Learner
by John Sharpe
Published: December 7, 2017
Read "Chain" CD/LP/Track Review Chain
by John Sharpe
Published: December 1, 2017
Read "Red Nation "1"" CD/LP/Track Review Red Nation "1"
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 20, 2017
Read "Passin' Thru" CD/LP/Track Review Passin' Thru
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 12, 2017
Read "June" CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read "Seven Secrets" CD/LP/Track Review Seven Secrets
by John Kelman
Published: May 26, 2017

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!