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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