Matthew Halpin: AgreementsBy
The quirky "To-Do Today To-Do Dismay" represents a bold opening gambit which is unlikely to leave the listener indifferent. The tempo of Halpin's simple, ringtone-like motif slows and quickens in harness with Kit Downes' woozy organ accompaniment and extended sci-fi ruminations. On an album full of visceral interplay this brooding opener stands apart. Curiously too, for a quintet sans bass, grooves largely trump soloing throughout Agreement. Downes' left hand ably fills that particular vacancy, while his right provokes wicked streams of jazz-cum-prog-noir.
On the driving "Dancing with the Devil," propelled by drummer Sean Carpio's bustling rhythms, there are snappy solos from Halpin and Downes, underpinned by guitarist Hanno Busch's fuzz-toned grunge. Old-school tenor warmth imbues Halpin's playing on "Dog Day Afternoon," a lazy blues of sultry hues. Likewise, on the rhythmically dense "The Beach," Halpin's lyricism plants at least one of his feet in a post-bop tradition which hints at Joe Lovano's influence. Atmospherics also play an important role, as pockets of echo-tinged tenor and Busch's slightly distorted tone attest on the powerful "Swings and Roundabouts."
The group is arguably at its most persuasive on uncluttered straight-ahead fare such as the boppish "Awkward Handshakes" and the burning, John Scofield-esque "Pop Fiction." On the latter, saxophonist and guitarist ride in tandem on the head, with Busch's precise yet biting solo displaying none of the frayed edges he purveys elsewhere. By way of contrast, the sub three-minute "Treetown" pitches Halpin with Carpio and percussionist Sergio Martinez in a hypnotic duel of tenor minimalism and dancing Afro-Caribbean groove. No less personal in stamp is "Sigh for Sam," an enveloping meditation of dream- like qualities founded on Carpio's heart-beat bass drum pulse.
Just as the album begins on a boldly risqué footing, so too, Halpin gently crowns his debut with "Sleep," his most left-field composition. This ethereal a cappella lullaby of poetic constructionharmonized for three voicesdovetails with Halpin's softly rendered phrasing, shimmering organ and guitar textures, and metallic punctuation as fleeting as shooting stars.
Constantly engaging and not infrequently surprising, Agreements is a highly satisfying debut which draws from past tradition while keeping an eye fixed firmly on the horizon. On this evidence, Halpin's trajectory will be one to follow, for sure.
To-Do Today, To-Do Dismay; Dancing with The Devil; Dog Day Afternoon; The Beach; Swings and Roundabouts; Sit Up and Shut Down; Awkward Handshakes; Pop Fiction; Treetown; Sigh for Sam; Sleep.
Matthew Halpin: saxophone; Kit Downes: keyboards; Hanno Busch: guitar, electric; Sergio Martinez: percussion; Sean Carpio: drums.
Veronika Morscher, Rebekka Salomea Ziegler, Laura Totenhagen: vocals (11).
Title: Agreements | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Frutex Tracks
Post a comment about this album
FOR THE LOVE OF JAZZAll About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.
WE NEED YOUR HELPTo expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.
About Matthew Halpin
Instrument: SaxophoneArticle Coverage | Calendar | Albums | Photos | Similar Artists