Spring Heel Jack The Sweetness of Water

On their fourth release for Thirsty Ear’s Blue Series, Ashley Wales and Graham Coxon have eschewed the ecstatic out play of earlier albums to explore a parallel ’60s and ’70s stream where Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue or In A Silent Way is a little less lucid, more feverish. Guest trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith is an excellent pitch hitter, mirroring Miles’ choosy approach and love of long notes, though with a slight warbling drunkenness of his own design. Returning collaborator Evan Parker’s saxophones keep the fire kindled under the music when watery peacefulness envelops the mood too thoroughly. Several pieces see the six contributing musicians splitting off into duos and trios, allowing for even more space to unfold delicate samples, organ swells, even harmonica licks. The energy ebbs and teases even when all six participate with drums that rattle rather than roll and bass lines that gently nudge instead of shove. Restless and emotional without being overly pretty or precious, Wales and Coxon have opened a new chapter in their book of jazz. (Thirsty Ear)