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Manchester based trumpeter, composer, arranger and producer Matthew Halsall has carved out a unique niche for himself as both a band-leader and producer delving deeply into the worlds of spiritual jazz and string-laden soul.

His latest project finds him playing with and producing the legendary LA jazz singer Dwight Trible, who first came to international renown with his 2005 Ninja Tune release Love Is the Answer. Trible, whose deeply soulful voice has seen him compared to Leon Thomas and Andy Bey, has worked with the likes of Pharoah Sanders, Horace Tapscott and Kamasi Washington (he sings lead vocals on the Epic) and brings a deep-rooted soulfulness to everything that he sings.

Inspirations features some of Dwight Trible and Matthew Halsall's favourite songs including brilliant versions of the timeless Bacharach classic What The World Needs Now Is Love featuring harpist Rachael Gladwin and the Nina Simone smash Feeling Good. A soulful reading of Donny Hathaway and Leroy Hutson's classic Tryin' Times and a heartfelt version of Coltrane's beautiful ballad, Dear Lord, with lyrics by Trible. Other highlights include a vibrant, soulful version of and a beautiful take on They also laid down two spiritual jazz masterpieces, a powerful re-working of Dorothy Ashby's Heaven and Hell (from the legendary The Rubiyat of Dorothy Ashby album) and a spine-tingling reading of the old folk song Black Is The Colour Of My True Love's Hair. Finally the album is rounded out with and the traditional spiritual Deep River and the beautiful standard I Love Paris.



TRACK LISTING

What The World Needs Now Is Love (feat. Matthew Halsall) 
I Love Paris (feat. Matthew Halsall) 
Feeling Good 
Dear Lord (feat. Matthew Halsall) 
Heaven & Hell 
Black Is The Colour Of My True Love's Hair (feat. Matthew Halsall) 
Deep River (feat. Matthew Halsall) 

Manchester based trumpeter, composer, arranger and band-leader Matthew Halsall is one of the rising stars of the UK jazz scene. His unique sound was brilliantly described as "Rain-streaked spiritual jazz from Manchester" by the Independent On Sunday and previous albums have found Halsall exploring the modal jazz of John and Alice Coltrane or paying heartfelt tribute to the hard bop of the late 50s and early 60s, but on 'Fletcher Moss Park' he offers his most personal statement yet.

Written and recorded over the last couple of years, 'Fletcher Moss Park' is inspired by one of Manchester's most beautiful places. A rambling, multi-tiered park of walkways and dreamy gardens that offers the contemplative Halsall a place of peace and respite from the city, a meditative space to think and write in. The stillness and beauty of the surroundings have steeped into his beautiful compositions for this album. Elegant and sincere, Halsall's compositions draw on his love of spiritual jazz, modern dance music and even his work with the award-winning Brighouse & Rastrick Brass Band earlier this year. Halsall who has recently been exploring his music in a stripped-back, electronica influenced, trio (featuring Taz Modi and Luke Flowers who also appear here) as well as the 12 piece Gondwana Orchestra has always favoured an earthy honestly and direct communication over tricksy arrangements and it is this deceptively simple openness that gives his music such a unique flavour as the young composer and producer seeks to express his feelings and thoughts with his music.

'Fletcher Moss Park' opens with three tracks featuring saxophonist Nat Birchall, harpist Rachael Gladwin and pianist Adam Fairhall alongside bassist Gavin Barras and drummer Gaz Hughes all long running members of Halsall's sextet. The beautiful 'Cherry Blossom' opens with a nod to Alice Coltrane before exploring it's own contemplative trajectory, the title track features a gorgeous opening from harpist Gladwin and one of Halsall's trademark slow but foot tappingly catchy grooves, Mary Emma Louise is an elegant tribute to someone special and features some beautifully wistful playing from the composer. 'Sailing Out To Sea' and 'Wee Lan' offer a change in mood, two short interludes for violin (Holly Simpson and Davinder Singh), cello (Adrianne Wininsky) and double bass (Barras), Halsall chose not to play here feeling that the brief musical sketches caught his intentions perfectly. Finally the album closes with the two most recent compositions, the reposeful 'Sun In September' which features fine work from flautist Lisa Mallett, alongside pianist Taz Modi and drummer Luke Flowers and the uplifting 'Finding My Way', which with its compelling groove and fine drumming from Flowers (best known for his work with Cinematic Orchestra) offers a nod towards Halsall's love of contemporary electronic music as well as a hint of future projects. But as with the writing here you can be sure that wherever Halsall's muse takes him his music will remain heartfelt and life affirming in its elegant directness as he explores his own unique musical terrain that stretches from the bucolic stillness of 'Fletcher Moss Park' to a world far beyond!

STAFF COMMENTS

Ryan says: A favourite of mine from our own local Jazz mastermind. Fletcher Moss Park explores a 50's, 60's sound channeling the likes of Coltrane. As you can imagine this album flows beautifully from beginning to end, almost as good as a stroll through the park itself.

TRACK LISTING

1. Cherry Blossom
2. Fletcher Moss Park
3. Mary Emma Louise
4. Sailing Out To Sea
5. Wee Lan (Little Orchid)
6. The Sun In September
7. Finding My Way

Matthew Halsall

Salute To The Sun

    Composer, trumpeter, producer, DJ and founder of Gondwana Records, Matthew Halsall has always worn many hats. But at the heart of everything that he does Halsall is first and foremost an artist and a musician. A trumpeter whose unflashy, soulful playing radiates a thoughtful beauty and a composer and band-leader who has created his own rich sound world. A sound that draws on the heritage of British jazz, the spiritual jazz of Alice Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders, as well as world music and electronica influences, and even modern art and architecture, to create something uniquely his own. A music that is rooted in Northern England but draws on global inspirations.

    Salute to the Sun is his first album as a leader since Into Forever (2015) and marks the debut of his new band. A hand-picked ensemble featuring some of Manchester’s finest young musicians: Matt Cliffe flute & saxophone, Maddie Herbert harp, Liviu Gheorghe piano, Alan Taylor drums and Jack McCarthy percussion as well as long-time Halsall collaborator, bassist, Gavin Barras who has been at the heart of Halsall’s bands for over a decade. For Matthew it was important to have a band based locally and able, pre-Covid, to meet and play each week, and who also performed a sold-out monthly basement session at Yes in Manchester. The album draws energy from these sessions and inspiration from themes and ideas that have inspired Halsall through the years (on albums such as Oneness, Fletcher Moss Park and When the World Was One) ideas of ecology, the environment and harmony with nature.

    “I feel Salute to the Sun is a positive earthy album. I wanted to create something playful but also quite primitive, earthy and organic that connected to the sounds in nature. I was listening to lush ambient field recordings of tropical environments such as jungles and rainforests and found myself drawn to percussive atmospheric sounds which replicated what I was hearing (bells / shakers / chimes / rain sticks) and I started to experiment with more wooden percussive instruments such as kalimba and marimba”.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Patrick says: After a year in which most of us had plenty of opportunity to reconnect with nature, Manchester’s pre-eminent jazz musician returned with this lush tribute to the living world. ’Salute To The Sun’ is Halsall’s first album as a leader in five years, and finds him fronting a new band cherry picked from the next generation of Mancunian musicians as well as long time collaborator Gavin Barras.

    Halsall’s spent much of the last decade reinterpreting spiritual jazz for the 21st century, and there’s been a consistent focus on ecological influences. On ’Salute To The Sun’ however, Halsall looks far beyond Fletcher Moss, instead exploring the humid sounds of the tropics across seven immersive compositions. Placing a greater emphasis on percussion than on previous works, Halsall lets his expressive tone soar over the woody rhythms beneath, the marimba and kalimba adding pitched nuance to the primal drum patterns. This album is as rich, warm and rewarding as the life giving orb which inspired it.

    TRACK LISTING

    Harmony With Nature
    Joyful Spirits Of The Universe
    Canopy & Stars
    Mindfulness Meditations
    Tropical Landscapes
    Salute To The Sun
    The Energy Of Life

    Signed to Matthew Halsall's Gondwana Records and championed by DJs from Mike Chadwick to Gilles Peterson and Jamie Cullum GoGo Penguin's skittering break-beats, telepathic interplay and a penchant for anthemic melody all contribute to a sound that's wholly their own. Pianist Chris Illingworth's yearning classical influenced melodies are filtered through the dance music energy of bassist Nick Blacka and drummer Rob Turner.

    Brilliantly recorded by their long-term sound engineer Joe Reiser and studio engineer Brendan Williams the band have taken full advantage of the increased recording budget, the success of their debut afforded, to record a statement of real intent. 'v2.0' is a gloriously vibrant technicolor snap-shot of a band finding their own voice - as drawing on a heady brew of influences from Brian Eno, John Cage and Squarepusher to Manchester's grey rain-streaked urban streets they create a brave new sound all their own.

    "A really brilliant modern piano trio that takes in the whole history of music. I think they're really special." - Jamie Cullum

    "That is a little bit special, brand new album, it's been a year now GoGo Penguin working on their latest material, out of Manchester, 'Kamaloka' the name of this track." - Gilles Peterson


    TRACK LISTING

    1. Murmuration
    2. Garden Dog Barbecue
    3. Kamaloka
    4. Fort
    5. One Percent
    6. Home
    7. The Letter
    8. To Drown In You
    9. Shock And Awe
    10. Hopopono

    Manchester based, DJ, bandleader and trumpeter Matthew Halsall is one of the UK's brightest jazz talents. A gifted trumpeter with a beautiful, expressive tone, his music draws on his love of the transcendental, spiritual and modal jazz of Alice and John Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders, as well as the glories of 60s British jazz.

    His third album "On The Go" is a heartfelt love letter to the jazz of the late 50s and early 60s. Inspired by the evocative sounds of Miles Davis' soundtrack to the Louis Malle film "Lift To The Scaffold" and the legendary early 60s recordings of Art Blakey and Max Roach the album is nostalgic but always soulful. However, while Halsall's elegiac music is imbued with a sense of history, the young trumpeter and DJ nevertheless brings a contemporary bounce to his music ensuring that his music breathes with a personality all its own.

    The album opens with "Music For A Dancing Mind", the most obvious nod to the work of Blakey and Roach. The beautiful "Song For Charlie" is named for Halsall's grandfather, a key inspiration in his life. Dukkha is a Buddhist term roughly translating to suffering so the title "The End Of Dukkha" is self-explanatory and "Samatha", another Buddhist term, means calm, a perfect title for this elegant tune. "The Journey Home" came to Halsall on the train back to Manchester from London and captures that happy feeling of return.



    Matthew Halsall & The Gondwana Orchestra

    When The World Was One

    Over the course of four albums, Manchester based trumpeter, composer, arranger and band-leader Matthew Halsall has carved out a niche for himself on the UK music scene as one of its brightest talents. His languid, soulful music has won friends from Jamie Cullum and Gilles Peterson to Jazz FM and Mojo as well as an ever-growing international following. His label Gondwana Records is home to GoGo Penguin and his own albums have found Halsall exploring the modal jazz of John and Alice Coltrane, paying tribute to the hard bop of the late '50s and early '60s or most recently on 'Fletcher Moss Park' drawing on Eastern influences in his most personal statement yet. His latest album 'When The World Was One' is something of a companion piece to 'Fletcher Moss Park' (much of the music was written at the same time) but draws more explicitly on Halsall's love of spiritual jazz and Eastern music as well as his own studies in meditation and travels in Japan. Beautifully recorded at Hasall's favourite studio, 80 Hertz in Manchester, and engineered by Brendan Williams and George Atkins it features the recording debut of Halsall's large ensemble, The Gondwana Orchestra, which utilises the exotic flavours of harp, koto and bansuri flute and Eastern scales to create a global palate for Halsall's life-affirming sounds.

    The Gondwana Orchestra features long time collaborators Nat Birchall, saxophone, Gavin Barras, bass and Rachael Gladwin, harp as well as Taz Modi on piano. Modi who also plays with Halsall in their more electronic trio shares his passion for spiritual jazz and plays the music with real feeling while the role of the harp here is to bring a touch of 'magical reality' a floating dreaminess that is a vital part of Halsall's elegiac and beautiful music. The drummer Luke Flowers is perhaps best known as part of Cinematic Orchestra, and Halsall describes him as 'one of the best drummers in the world' and hails him for 'playing the music exactly as I heard it in my head', Keiko Kitamura is a Japanese Koto player who is becoming an increasingly important part of the Gondwana Orchestra, her role is similar to Gladwin's in that the koto helps free up the music while also bringing a real sound of the East. Finally, flautist Lisa Mallett brings a love of Indian music to the orchestra, much travelled on the continent she brings all of her knowledge and experience to play offering a unique texture to Halsall's dreamy melodies.

    TRACK LISTING

    1. When The World Was One
    2. A Far Away Place
    3. Falling Water
    4. Patterns
    5. Kiyomizu-Dera
    6. Sagano Bamboo Forest
    7. Tribute To Alice Coltrane

    Phil France

    The Swimmer


    France of Cinematic Orchestra fame has just signed a three album deal with Gondwana and is currently working on new material for release in Autumn 2017, but first up is a worldwide re-release for his debut solo recording, The Swimmer, a beautiful beguiling "soundtrack" for a film that hasn't been made yet.
    Originally released in October 2013 it sounds even better now than it did then, deeply emotive and epic in scale it draws it influences from the great second wave of film composers including John Carpenter and Vangelis, as well as minimalist composers such as Steve Reich and Philip Glass. France's skill, in this album, as well as his work with The Cinematic Orchestra, is in soundtracking human emotion - The Swimmer is full of heartbreak and recovery, strength, honesty and frailty, it is meditative and hopeful and, in our opinion, you might not hear a better album this year.



    STAFF COMMENTS

    David says: Sounding even better now than it did when it was originally released in 2013, this is an unparalleled work of beauty that every home should own.

    TRACK LISTING

    1. The Swimmer
    2. Transition
    3. Kubrick
    4. Joy Of Brass
    5. London Park Hotel
    6. December
    7. Animator

    Manchester has produced some of the UK's greatest rock bands from Joy Division to the Stone Roses, but it isn't just the indie scene that thrives here, from the likes of Jon Thorne and Stuart McCallum to the Beats & Pieces Big Band and trumpeter Matthew Halsall, Manchester's jazz scene has produced some of the UK's brightest and most original jazz groups. Now with its eighth release Matthew Halsall's Manchester based Gondwana record label shines a light on another of Manchester's expansive, brilliant piano trio GoGo Penguin. Featuring pianist Chris Illingworth, bassist Grant Russell and drummer Rob Turner (all still in their twenties), GoGo Penguin, draw on a heady brew of influences from Aphex Twin to Brian Eno, Debussy to Shostakovich and Massive Attack to EST.


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