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Jasmine Myra: Horizons

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Jasmine Myra: Horizons
Unlike America, a country big enough to support multiple, more or less autonomous jazz scenes, England, like its European neighbours, is more suited to supporting a single centre. However, by a combination of talent and perseverance, a few artists have managed to create regional scenes which flourish independently of London.

One such artist is the trumpeter, producer and record label director Matthew Halsall (interviewed here), who is based in the northern city of Manchester. Halsall's own albums have established a distinct strand of spiritual jazz, and his Gondwana Records label has platformed a diversity of similarly one-off bands, among them GoGo Penguin, Mammal Hands and Portico Quartet, with a historical emphasis on those from the north of England.

The latest Gondwana recruit, in summer 2022, is alto saxophonist and flautist Jasmine Myra, who debuts with the Halsall-produced Horizons. Myra is based in Leeds, a city around forty-five miles from Manchester, and she is a graduate of Leeds Conservatoire. On the album, she leads a nonet, which is augmented by a string quartet. The music is lush and melodic, calm and centred, blissful without being blissed out or lacking in sinew. Harpist Alice Roberts adds to the vibe (Halsall loves harps, though the decision to use Roberts was probably made by Myra). Compositions are all by Myra, as are all the arrangements except those for the string quartet, which are by Carmel Smickersgill.

Horizons is a strong debut. Myra, guitarist Ben Haskins and soprano saxophonist Anna Chandler are fluent soloists. A little dissonance from time to time would have served to accentuate the melodicism, but that is down to personal taste.

What is certain is that Jasmine Myra is a promising new name to watch. Make her acquaintance on the YouTube clip below.

Track Listing

Prologue; Horizons; 1000 Miles; Words Left Unspoken; Morningtide; Awakening; The Promise; New Beginnings.

Personnel

Jasmine Myra: saxophone, alto; Anna Chandler: saxophone, soprano; Ben Haskins: guitar; Jasper Green: keyboards; Gavin Barras: bass, acoustic; Sam Quintana: bass, acoustic; George Hall: drums; Greg Burns: percussion.

Additional Instrumentation

Jasmine Myra: alto saxophone, flute; Alice Roberts: harp; Isabella Baker: violin; Lisa Natsuno: violin; Elizabeth Lister: viola; Lizzie Elliot: cello.

Album information

Title: Horizons | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Gondwana Records

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