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Articles | Featured | Future

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mammal Hands: Shadow Work

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Our best musicians can soak up influences from many diverse sources, assimilate them into their own style, and allow them to emerge during improvisation. This is why, as readers of this site will surely be aware, a piece can sound different in the hands of two skilled jazz musicians even when the raw material of the composition is constant. When this level of openness is maintained over time it can allow musicians, such as Mammal Hands here, to show a ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Portico Quartet: Art in the Age of Automation

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It's an inevitable rule that pretty much any piece of automated technology, especially digital technology, gets criticized for replacing something natural. The synthesizer invited a backlash when it was used (and yes, often misused) as a substitute for 'real' instruments--ditto the computerized tones and robotic timekeeping of MIDI and digital programming. Nonetheless, it's just as inevitable that after each seemingly soulless invention comes along, someone figures out how to use it in ways artistic and meaningful. Joe Zawinul made early ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Dwight Trible: Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall)

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Having worked with the likes of the Pharoah Sanders Quartet and Kamasi Washington the musical fit between Los Angeles native Dwight Trible and Manchester's Gondwana records should be self- evident. This album was conceived as a combination of joint favourites and spiritual jazz classics chosen by Trible and Gondwana label boss Matthew Halsall, after a couple of chance festival encounters and live guest spots. The band includes not only Halsall's own beautiful trumpet playing, but also several of Halsall's trusted ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Phil France: The Swimmer

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When did the future get postponed? Growing up in the 1970s and 1980s it felt as if innovations that might change and improve our lives beyond recognition were tantalisingly just around the corner. Surely the science fiction utopia of a life set free from drudgery, where our preferred mode of transport would either be a teleport or a jet pack, should have arrived by now? Yet well into the second decade of the 21st century our children face a world ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

John Ellis: Evolution - Seeds and Streams

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There's a temptation to assume with evolution that all of history has been leading to this point, that today's dominant species or situation will continue as such forever. Nonsense of course, think of the changes in the lifetimes of current generations and it's clear that evolution is not a defined end point but a dynamic, continuing process. If nothing else our planet has finite resources, so continuing on a fixed path is unlikely to work forever. Musically the risks are ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mammal Hands: Floa

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Mammal Hands debut album Animalia from autumn 2014 impressed with its emphasis on the overall collective effect over solo pyrotechnics, a choice that perfectly complemented the build and release of tension in the music. Of course in a trio set up the contributions of each member are always discernible and the twist of substituting Jordan Smart's saxophone for the bass position in the traditional piano trio gave the space that their sound needed. Floa, a Norse word for deluge or ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Matthew Halsall: Matthew Halsall: On the Go (Special Edition)

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Slipping under the radar this low-key reissue of Matthew Halsall's classic 2011 album should not be ignored. Why so? Well rather than just tweak the tapes for a first vinyl issue Halsall, who it appears was not completely happy with the original mix, has taken the opportunity to commission a full remix and remaster by George Atkins, and added a generous 3 previously unreleased contemporaneous tracks inspired by Miles Davis' soundtrack to Ascenseur Pour L'Echafaud (Lift to the Scaffold).

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Matthew Halsall & the Gondwana Orchestra: Into Forever

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Some artists epitomise the times they live in, while others go their own way, standing apart from the herd, ploughing their own furrow. As the self-aggrandising, dishonest and downright greedy seem to gain ever greater prominence in our world, those whose work can provide a few moments of respite, refuge and reflection become more and more important--artists like Manchester's Matthew Halsall, who here releases his sixth album since 2008. On Into Forever Halsall shares the billing with the Gondwana Orchestra ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mammal Hands: Animalia

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Tough economic times have seen a lot of musicians aggregate into trios of one sort or another of late. Sonically the more minimalist sound has the upside that it is more easily reproduced live and avoids the logistical and financial difficulties of maintaining a large ensemble. The trouble is that it becomes more and more difficult for trios and other small ensembles to stand out from the crowd -fine if you have the postmodern verve of say GoGo Penguin or ...


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