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

2019-11-07
Glenn Smith RIP – Glenn Smith, founder, mandolinist, and primary composer of the DeLand, Florida based prog / fusion band Magnatar, passed away on October 18th 2019 at the age of 68, after a brief illness.  » Read more

2019-11-04
Dino Brassea RIP – Word reaches us of the passing of Dino Brassea, who sang and played flute in Cast for many years. By our count, Brassea appeared on 11 Cast albums between 1994 and 2002. He also released music as a solo artist. » Read more

2019-10-06
Ginger Baker RIP – Legendary English drummer Ginger Baker has died at the age of 80. After coming to fame with Cream in the 60s alongside Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce, he became one of the most recognized and influential drummers of the rock era. On September 25, his family announced that he was critically ill, and on October 6 his death was confirmed. » Read more

2019-08-20
Alex's Hand Seeks Spa Treatment – American / European band Alex's Hand has a new album in the works called Hungarian Spa, which looks to be their biggest and best yet, featuring a large roster of guest musicians. They're seeking funding to take the project on the road, and are looking for help from the crowd of wisdom. » Read more

2019-06-05
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Pelt - Técheöd – Here we have three ambient tracks from a not-so-dark trio on the indie VHF label. According to the label website, the title of this album is pronounced "Tay-hoood," but I'm still not certain what...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues