Matthew Halsall: An Ever Changing View 

The Manchester trumpeter meanders further along a pastoral path through electronics, global music and the gentler groves of spiritual jazz

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Composed at a house overlooking the sea, this album feels far from the world’s woes, taking its cues from the natural elements and cycles. Trumpeter Halsall’s tenth album begins with a brief prelude of twittering birds and angelic harp. More propulsive kalimba, glockenspiel and percussion take us into the lead-off single, the eight-minute Water Street, led up the garden path by Matt Cliffe’s flute. This pastoral mood conjures up the Penguin Café Orchestra, Don Cherry’s more amiable moments and Shadowfax, an 80s world-fusion band inspired by Cherry.

Halsall’s label, which he founded a decade and a half ago, cites his spiritual jazz influences and points to his recordings of Alice Coltrane tunes. There are touches of her sound here with swirling harps and tingling bells, but Halsall remains on the dreamier, driftier side of the spiritual jazz tradition of Pharoah Sanders and the Coltranes, without their anguished outbursts and ecstatic peaks.

A closer parallel is the modal side of Miles Davis’s In A Silent Way, especially on Jewels, though Halsall’s trumpet voice has a more subdued emotional charge. Much of this album has little to do with jazz, though, and more with the 1950s easy-listening exotica of Martin Denny and Les Baxter, adding subtle electronic and post-trip-hop tinges.

An Ever Changing View works as a soothing background soundtrack for discussions or contemplations in the wee hours, or a yogic morning sun salutation. You could have this on while taking a nap and it wouldn’t disturb you – indeed, you’d probably have some lovely dreams. No matter how many times I listen to this in different settings, it barely leaves a trace, floating by like cumulus clouds in a summer sky. And sometimes that’s just what you need.


Discography
Tracing Nature; Water Street; An Ever Changing View; Calder Shapes; Mountains, Trees And Seas; Field Of Vision; Jewels; Sunlight Reflection; Natural Movement; Triangles In The Sky (49.39)
Halsall (t, p, kalimba, glock, celeste, pc, field recordings); Matt Cliffe (f, as); Chip Wickham (f, ss); Alice Roberts, Maddie Herbert (hp); Liviu Gheorghe, Jasper Green (p), Gavin Barras (b); Alan Taylor (d); Jack McCarthy, Sam Bell (pc, cga); Chris Davies (pc, x); Caitlin Lang (v). Manchester and Anglesey, 2021-22.
Gondwana Records GONDLP062/GONDCD062