Spring Heel Jack: Songs and ThemesBy
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.
Church Music; Dereks; With Out Words; Eupen; For Paul Rutherford; Folk Players; Silvertone; Claraa; 1,000 Yards; Antiphon; At Long Last; Garlands.
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
Post a comment about this album
FOR THE LOVE OF JAZZAll About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.
WE NEED YOUR HELPTo expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.
About Spring Heel Jack
Instrument: Band / orchestraArticle Coverage | Calendar | Albums | Photos | Similar Artists