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
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.
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more