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Born This Day
Louis Armstrong and Steve Andrews.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

CD Review: Matthew Halsall & the Gondwana Orchestra – Into Forever

(Review by Russell)
Trumpeter Matthew Halsall set up his own record label as a means of getting his music heard and with any luck to attract interest from established major companies. That was seven or eight years ago. He has gone on to release five critically acclaimed albums, all on Gondwana Records. Into Forever is Halsall’s latest CD featuring several of his long term collaborators and two new, most welcome, voices.
Buddhism and transcendental meditation are key elements in Matthew Halsall’s life and music. He has travelled widely, visiting and studying in the Far East. His music extends beyond any notional jazz boundaries embracing non-Western forms. Into Forever is the first of Halsall’s albums to feature vocals. Working with lyricists/vocalists has been one of his ambitions and in being introduced to the work of Josephine Oniyama, trumpeter/ composer/ arranger/ label boss Halsall knew the time was right to embark on this project.
Eleven tracks, on which the leader’s trumpet is heard on two tracks only, Into Forever is beautifully recorded; bassist Gavin Barras underpins much of the music, unobtrusive yet anchoring the ensemble, and the Cinematic Orchestra’s drummer Luke Flowers finds the right sound working alongside the album’s string section. Barras’ bass leads off many of the tunes with Flowers right there. As I Walk, one of several numbers featuring Oniyama, includes the lyric: …a world of tranquility. This, perhaps, exemplifies the ethos and vibe. Halsall’s vision isn’t about the grandstanding soloist backed by a rhythm section. All of the tracks coalesce, presenting a broader canvas; contemplation, conversation, stillness. Oniyama’s intoned vocals on Badder Weather suggest a soul voice (of which we should hear more) as pianist Taz Modi takes a solo. The string section – viola and violin, cello, harp and koto – isn’t a bolt-on addition, it is integral to the album’s sound. The title track – Into Forever – is the first of two on which Halsall is heard playing trumpet as a member of the ensemble. The collective triumphs over the individual ego on this new CD. It will be released later this week – Friday October 2 – and Halsall and his accomplished troupe have a number of gigs lined-up starting on October 1 at the Capstone Theatre, Liverpool, on home-town turf at St Peter’s Church, Manchester (23) and a London show at Union Chapel (29) with other dates in between.
Russell
Into Forever  by Matthew Halsall & the GondwanaOrchestra (Gondwana Records CD013) is released on October 1. It will also be available on vinyl and as a download.                       
Matthew Halsall (trumpet), Lisa Mallett (flute), Rachael Gladwin (harp), Keiko Kitamura (koto), Taz Modi (piano), Gavin Barras (double bass), Luke Flowers (drums), Sam Bell (percussion), Chris Cruiks (percussion), Margit Van Der Zwan (cello), Natalie Purton (viola & violin), John Purton (violin), Jote Osahn (violin), Ollie Izod (violin), Josephine Oniyama (vocals) & Bryony Jarman-Pinto (vocals)

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