Exposé Online banner

Matthew Shipp — Equilibrium
(Thirsty Ear THI57127.2, 2003, CD)

Spring Heel Jack — Live
(Thirsty Ear THI57130.2, 2003/20030, CD)

The Blue Series Continuum — The Good and Evil Sessions
(Thirsty Ear THI57134.2, 2003, CD)

Various Artists — VisionFest : VisionLive
(Thirsty Ear THI 57131.2, 2003, CD+DVD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2003-08-01

Equilibrium Cover artLive Cover artThe Good and Evil Sessions Cover artVisionFest : VisionLive Cover art

Back in the late 80s, the style called acid jazz emerged, blending jazz with hip-hop elements, essentially bringing a modern groove to jazz, analogous to the incorporation of funk, soul, and rock into jazz in the late 60s. For some time now, Thirsty Ear has been seeking out a new interface between jazz and contemporary culture, this time not necessarily sticking to music that grooves – in other words, not shying away from the freer and more experimental streams of jazz. Pianist Matthew Shipp and electronic duo Spring Heel Jack are two of the major proponents of this new fusion; Shipp features on all four of these new releases, and it is Equilibrium that is my favorite of the bunch. Shipp is joined by bassist William Parker and drummer Gerald Cleaver, plus Khan Jamal on vibes and “FLAM” on synths and programming. Most tracks have no detectable electronics on them however, which is a testament to the subtlety of the players. A wide range of tempos and moods grace the set, with many nice moments.

Spring Heel Jack started life as an electronic duo, popular on dance floors for remixes and originals, but over the last few years has been exploring the electronic/jazz interface. Taking another step away from programmed dance pop, they now have a live album of improvised music, joined by Shipp and Parker on Rhodes and bass respectively, plus some great sax from Evan Parker and wild guitar from J. Spaceman. Very inventive stuff along the lines of good improv rock or Terje’s Rypdal’s crazier moments. And it’s great to hear Rhodes used this way again. VisionFest was a festival of avant jazz held in New York in 2002, and from listening to the CD and watching the DVD, I’m glad I missed it. Only two of the eight tracks are what I’d consider listenable (aimless free noodling and strange noises for their own sake). Furthermore, the camera work on the video is quite bad, a single fixed camera that mostly takes in the whole stage, occasionally zooming in on one portion, often at the expense of musicians playing on the other side. And taking this whole new genre another step, we have The Good and Evil Sessions: essentially leaderless studio collaborations between some of the usual suspects. It ends up being a little more beat-oriented, with arranged brass parts over slinky rhythms. It’s lots of fun to listen to, and would make great soundtrack music for a future-noir film.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 27, 2003 releases, 20030 releases

Related artist(s): Evan Parker, William Parker, Matthew Shipp, Spring Heel Jack

Latest news

2020-02-18
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Anderson / Wakeman - The Living Tree – Yes's Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman have enjoyed success both within and without the group. Considering that both are on the outs with their previous band, it makes sense that the two would...  (2011) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues