Matthew Halsall: An Ever Changing View review – a rich musical meditation

The Manchester trumpeter’s ninth album mixes ambient percussion and yearning melodies in enticing if familiar fashion

Like many of his generation, Manchester’s Matthew Halsall came to jazz after hearing a DJ drop a sample into the mix (in his case Pharoah Sanders’s You’ve Got to Have Freedom). Unlike most, Halsall went on to play himself, marrying the trumpet learned as a teenager to an ambient backdrop of electronica and percussion. With Alice Coltrane as his lodestone, his approach hasn’t much changed since, though it has evolved, adding players – an entire “Gondwana Orchestra” for two albums – meaning there’s a touch of deja entendu about this ninth release.

It’s an enticing creation nonetheless, full of mesmeric, tinkling percussion conjured from loops and samples drawing on marimba, kalimba, glockenspiel and even a set of tuned triangles. Composed in north Wales and Northumberland, its inspirations sparkle in titles such as Water Street and the funky Mountains, Trees and Seas, while a couple of short, lovely harp pieces include birdsong. Above its shape-shifting backdrops, Halsall’s trumpet delivers yearning, melodic lines. His sound is bold and bell-like, and on such a meditative album you occasionally crave something muted and Miles-like, though there are winning contributions from a slinky Rhodes piano on Jewels and an ethereal flute on the closing Triangles in the Sky. It all slips easily, sometimes delightfully past.

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