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Elegant, Elegiac Lyricism,
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This review is from: Fletcher Moss Park (Audio CD)
Originally released in October 2012 Manchester's Matthew Halsall has continued to explore and develop his understanding of Jazz, exhibiting a keen awareness of the genre's past greats (particularly Miles Davis and John Coltrane) whilst simultaneously (and knowingly) keeping an ear to the modern musical Jazz impulse, which often stretches out beyond the parameters accepted in certain quarters. 'Fletcher Moss Park' is the latest installment to document his developing musical sensibilities, building upon the earlier 'On The Go' (2011), 'Colour Yes' (2009) and 'Sending My Love' (2008).
'Cherry Blossom' opens with shimmering and swirling harp notes (Rachael Gladwin), lightly joined by caressing piano (Adam Fairhall), before the rising (and affirmative) trumpet emerges, issuing a call before retreating to allow a slowly progressive sway to take hold. Halsall's playing here is reminiscent of Miles Davis, with his often muted playing gently embracing the music around him. The musical space created is shared with his fellow players, creating a distinctly laid back vibe in which the listener can simply wallow. The title track 'Fletcher Moss Park' continues in a similar vein, again featuring the harp, before the bass (Gavin Barras) signals the descending and rising groove upon which to play. Again Halsall's playing is restrained, confident, yet never shouting for attention, reflected in the beautifully highlighted (and shared) solo playing. 'Mary Emma Louise' swings warmly, driven largely by the insistent playing of Gaz Hughes on drums. 'Sailing Out To Sea' is a short elegiac piece (less than two minutes), featuring cello (Adrianne Winnisky) and violin (Davinder Singh), quickly followed by 'Wee Lan (Little Orchid)', with broad string playing flowing over a sharply plucked musical edging. 'Sun In September' sounds (quite subjectively) part of a musical triptych (begun by 'Sailing Out To Sea'), with the alternative sonic soundscape extending far beyond Manchester. The set ends with 'Finding My Way', returning to a far more traditional articulation, yet hinting at the space occupied by Drum & Bass (largely suggested by the drum phrasing).
So. Do you buy?
Recorded in April and June 2010 this is a relatively short set, length substituted by a concentrated lyricism, with Halsall settling in to short phrasing where notes are never wasted. The feel is light and airy, suggestive of a warm hazy Summer's evening shared with friends. Being rhythmically driven isn't the concern here, instead your ears are presented with a meditative and contemplative reflection in sound, an understated elegance of expression.
One to savor with repeated rewards.