Matthew Halsall & The Gondwana Orchestra: When The Worls Was One

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COMPOSERS: Matthew Halsall
LABELS: Gondwana Records
ALBUM TITLE: When The World Was One
WORKS: When The World Was One
PERFORMER: Matthew Halsall (trumpet), Nat Birchall (sax), Lisa Mallett (flute), Keiko Kitamura (koto), Rachael Gladwin (harp) etc
CATALOGUE NO: GOND011

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Manchester’s perhaps better known in contemporary music circles for producing brash indie rock bands. But it’s also grown some sensitive young jazz talent – much of it tended by horn player Matthew Halsall. This Gondwana Orchestra set fulfils the eastern promise shown by Halsall’s three earlier albums. He’s built out the line-up to augment Gladwin’s heavenly harp with Kitamura’s koto, a traditional Japanese stringed instrument, plus swirling Indian bansuri flute from Lisa Mallett. The juxtaposition of these otherworldly flavours and exotic scales with Halsall and Birchall’s surging modal jazz lines is beautiful. The rhythm section, plus Taz Modi’s delicate piano chording combine to add to the music’s uplift. Jazz has been this (meditative) way before – think Alice Coltrane. Matthew Halsall is extending that tradition – while giving new meaning to the term northern soul.

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Garry Booth