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spring heel jack, "masses"

Those who have followed Spring Heel Jack's evolution from day one through last year's collaboration with Low and the Disappeared LP think they might have been prepared for what was next, right? Perhaps. Last year the Blue Series from Thirsty Ear surfaced with The Matthew Shipp Quartet's album, 'Pastoral Composure', this year Shipp and an extended family have been paired up with the former early drum 'n bass champions, Spring Heel Jack for the continuum of the Blue Series.

While 'Masses' is a wonderful marriage of jazz instrumentalists with a tiny bit of electronic contributions, I somewhat question the SHJ label for the project. Perhaps it's political, perhaps it's there to try to introduce the SHJ fans to a more organic live sound than what the SHJ followers are used to. It's a blend of form and function: within the confines of ten tracks, there's a little bit of electronic noise, screechy horns, tinkling pianos, muted swing horns in sultry retro-art deco interludes, boppin jam sessions, and moods created for sadness, longingness and joy. Could this be the new direction of jazz? (Combining organic instrumental improvisationalists with established electronica tweakers?) Maybe not, but this all the while is an enjoyable listen and never drags on too long or becomes too obnoxious and must be turned off.