5 Selects: Matthew Halsall (Gondwana Records)

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Photo by Emily Dennison

The Gondwana Records boss shares five essential favorites.

Manchester-based trumpeter, bandleader, and composer Matthew Halsall has a new album coming out tomorrow! Inspired by the breathtaking sea views in north Wales and a striking modernist house the Gondwana Records founder stayed at in Bridlington, An Ever Changing View plays out “like a landscape painting” with a brilliant blend of spiritual jazz, electronica, and global sounds, clusters of percussion, and happy accidents (© Bob Ross) found in the open exchange of free improvisation.

Halsall’s “ever-expanding box of percussion” serve as the foundation for the songs. Congas, kalimba, glockenspiel, seeds, bells and chimes feature across the album’s ten tracks and were often sampled to create hypnotic, trance-inducing loops that the band members would then play on top of. Halsall, who was inspired early on by eclectic selectors like Mr. Scruff, “would almost be like a DJ at points, bringing different elements in and out for people to play on top of. It was a new and fun way of working, and everyone beautifully adapted to that process.”




The album artwork (and the image above) features a gorgeous tapestry hand-crafted by weaver Sara Kelly. “We worked closely together to design something that beautifully reflected his music, as well as tell the story of how and where it was written, on the idyllic Welsh coastline. Each tapestry is unique, and is semi-transparent, so they can sit in the land and form part of the landscape.” Read more about the project here.

In anticipation of the release tomorrow, Halsall shared five essential favorites that deeply influenced his musical journey along with personal write-ups about each pick.

Miles Davis – Kind of Blue 

A timeless classic and probably the first jazz album that I felt a deep connection to. I love every single note on this record, it’s a masterclass in modal jazz improvisation and composition. I’ve played along to all of Miles’s trumpet solos on this record many, many times. 




The Cinematic Orchestra – Motion 

This album gave me a super fresh perspective on how to compose jazz in a more contemporary way. I love the way J. Swinscoe sampled things like Buddy Rich’s Willowcrest and Channel One Suite, Elvin Jones’s Kalima and Herbie Hancock’s Death Wish soundtrack. 

Pharoah Sanders – Journey to the One 

I think this is one of my favourite Pharoah records of all time. I first heard the track “You’ve Got To Have Freedom” on the dance floor at one of Mr. Scruff’s nights and went home and searched for days for anything I could find featuring Pharoah and it was through these searches I also discovered his work with Alice Coltrane, which changed my whole musical direction and introduced me to the world of spiritual jazz. 

Alice Coltrane – Journey In Satchidananda 

This was the first Alice Coltrane album I heard as it features Pharaoh Sanders and I cannot tell you how many times I’ve listened to it. I became absolutely obsessed with it and have even done a cover of the title track with my band.




Makaya McCraven – In These Times 

Makaya has become one of my favourite contemporary jazz drummers / composers / producers and this album is a great listen from start to finish with a lush variety of instrumentation.

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