Matthew Halsall – Music For A Dancing Mind

Title: Music For A Dancing Mind

Artist: Matthew Halsall

Album: On The Go

Year: 2011

Genre: Jazz, Big Band, Free Jazz

Sometimes it’s best to get straight to the point, to stop beating around the bush and avoid going round in circles. This is one of those times. On The Go is superb, a finely-crafted, emotionally and spiritually engaging work that stands comparison with anything the jazz world currently has to offer, and with plenty of the finest from the jazz world’s past.

On The Go is the third album from trumpeter Matthew Halsall, one of a growing number of British jazz players who prefers to remain outside the London scene. Halsall’s chosen base of operations is Manchester, in the north of England. His inspirations come from that city’s own music scene (where he’s also a DJ), as well as from the late-’50s/early-’60s sounds of John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Art Blakey. He takes this mix of inspirations to create a unique, and beautiful, sound of his own.

Halsall has impressive control of his instrument, with every note sounding crystal clear, whether he’s spitting them out in rapid succession or caressing them from his trumpet with considered grace. The latter approach characterizes the lovely “Song For Charlie,” a tune that manages to be both heart-warming and heartbreaking in its stark and dignified beauty. Halsall’s trumpet part is a masterpiece of precision, but imbued with real humanity—a lone cry in the wilderness. The backing; from pianist Adam Fairhall, bassist Gavin Barras and drummer Gaz Hughes; is superbly complementary.

“Music For A Dancing Mind” opens with Barras’ neat, fat, five-note riff, and swings like a laidback version of Dizzy Gillespie’s “A Night In Tunisia.” Nat Birchall’s tenor is soft and smooth, while Fairhall adds some interesting and chunky piano. “Samatha” is another graceful tune, underpinned by Hughes’ floating brush work and Barras’ sparse bass line. Harpist Rachael Gladwin adds to the tune’s trance-like quality, her exquisitely crafted solo melding perfectly with the rhythm players.

Bruce Lindsay, All AboutJazz

Advertisements