It’s been a long time since I last heard a contemporary jazz album that I enjoyed from start to finish. Last year’s Yatha Bhuta Jazz Combo was such a record, and so is the new album by Matthew Halsall & The Gondwana Orchestra. Titled “When The World Was One”, the 7-track recording features fine spiritual jazz reminiscent of Pharoah Sanders or Alice Coltrane, the latter even received a proper tribute.
1. When The World Was One
2. A Far Away Place
3. Falling Water
6. Sagano Bamboo Forest
7. Tribute To Alice
“When The World Was One” was released last week on Gondwana Records and available in all kinds of formats from their Bandcamp store. You can stream the entire record in the player above!
PS: Oh and in case you’re wondering, that beautiful artwork is courtesy of Daniel Halsall, presumably Matthew’s brother.
GoGo Penguin probably isn’t the ordinary name for a jazz trio. Though, and that could legitimize the chosen band name, the trio is everything but ordinary itself. GoGo Penguin – Chris Illingworth on piano, Grant Russell on bass and Rob Turner on drums – is a Manchester-based trio who just released their debut album Fanfares on Matthew Halsall’s Gondwana Records.
The three classical trained musicians met at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. After playing frequent gigs and jamming in the studio to new sounds they founded GoGo Penguin in 2009. As a trio the already performed with acts like Polar Bear, Django Bates and Acoustic Ladyland. As individual musicians they have performed and worked with the likes of Luke Flowers (Cinematic Orchestra), Jon Thorne (Lamb), or Andy Sheppard. Furthermore they cite a diverse spectrum of artists such as Massive Attack, Bad Plus, Brian Eno and Debussy as their influences.
The seven songs strong Fanfares is an inspirational ride through a fusion of driven and energetic contemporary jazz, melodic harmonies and a touch of electronic elements. The atmospheric opening track “Seven Sons of Björn” is a wistful tribute to Esbjörn Svensson, the mesmerizing “Last Words” is inspired by Aphex Twin while others are by Miles Davis, Chopin or Einojuhani Rautavaara, a Finnish composer of classical music. All these different ingredients and the synergy of three open thinking musicians cause a powerful debut album.
You can listen and purchase the album at Bandcamp.
I had a rather stressful week so I’m glad to find myself in the weekend with some smooth jazz to listen to, like this Cinematic Orchestra cover by Matthew Halsall which I found in my inbox this morning.
On request, Matthew allowed embedding the track and now it’s even available for download. You know where you can thank him for that!