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Musician

Nat Birchall

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Saxophonist Nat Birchall has always been something of an enigma, a sublimely soulful saxophonist hidden from view in the Northern hills of England. His debut album Sixth Sense (1999) first announced him to the jazz world as an urgent tenor saxophonist with a feel for pulsing modal hard-bop. But it was his cult hit and now highly sought after soulful slice of spiritual jazz Akhenaten (released on trumpeter Matthew Halsall’s label, Gondwana Records, in 2009) that suggested that the spirit of Coltrane was alive and well in Northern England. Acclaimed by the critics (MOJO for one hailing its ‘spacial sunship beauty’ and ‘lyrical heat haze hypnotism’) Akhenaten together with Halsall’s own releases ‘Sending My Love’ and ‘Colour Yes’ helped create the unique sound that the Independent On Sunday described as ‘rain soaked spiritual jazz from Manchester”. Growing up in a Northern Village, Birchall was hardly exposed to jazz but through some friends fell in love with roots reggae and dub in the early ‘70s and it was the legendary Jamaican jazz-influenced saxophonists, Cedric Brooks, Tommy McCook, that inspired him take up the saxophone and through them that he discovered the music of John Coltrane

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Article: Album Review

Bennie Maupin & Adam Rudolph: Symphonic Tone Poem For Brother Yusef

Read "Symphonic Tone Poem For Brother Yusef" reviewed by Chris May


Had the multi-reed player Yusef Lateef still been alive in 2020, he would have been celebrating his 100th birthday. Sadly, Lateef passed seven years earlier. But 93 years is a good span for a jazz musician, especially one of Lateef's generation, who came of age in time to cut his professional teeth in swing bands.

Album

Ancient Africa

Label: Ancient Archive of Sound
Released: 2021
Track listing: Ancient Africa; Paladins; Mirror Mind; Song For John Blanke; Malidoma; Ancestral Dance.

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Article: Album Review

Adam Fairhall / Johnny Hunter: Winifred Atwell Revisited

Read "Winifred Atwell Revisited" reviewed by Chris May


Winifred Atwell was a gifted pianist, born in Trinidad, who came to Britain to study classical music at the Royal Academy of Music in 1946. By the early 1950s, a combination of talent and a husband who knew his way around British popular entertainment had established Atwell as a bill-topping theatrical and recording star.

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Article: Album Review

Nat Birchall: Ancient Africa

Read "Ancient Africa" reviewed by Chris May


Tucked away in the rural north of England, and so doubly off the media radar, tenor saxophonist Nat Birchall is one of Britain's best kept secrets. His specialism is the strand of spiritual jazz pioneered by John Coltrane in the mid 1960s. Since the turn of the millennium, Birchall has released a string of albums ringing ...

Album

Exaltation / Live In Athens Vol 1

Label: Parafono
Released: 2020
Track listing: Side One: For Michalis. Side Two: Exaltation; Humility.

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Article: Album Review

Nat Birchall Sextet: Exaltation / Live In Athens Vol 1

Read "Exaltation / Live In Athens Vol 1" reviewed by Chris May


The saxophonist Nat Birchall is, alongside his friend the trumpeter Matthew Halsall, one of the instigators of the spiritual jazz scene centred around the northern British city of Manchester, two hundred miles and a lifestyle north of London. Birchall self-released his debut album, The Sixth Sense, in 1999. John Coltrane, Yusef Lateef, Pharoah Sanders and Alice ...

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Article: Interview

Matthew Halsall: A New Dawn

Read "Matthew Halsall: A New Dawn" reviewed by Chris May


After five years without the release of any newly recorded material, the British trumpeter and composer Matthew Halsall has returned in winter 2020 with a fresh new band and a sparkling new album, Salute To The Sun, on his Gondwana Records label. It is more than good to have him and his music back.

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Article: Album Review

Matthew Halsall: Salute To The Sun

Read "Salute To The Sun" reviewed by Chris May


Trumpeter and composer Matthew Halsall is an inspirational figure on the British scene, as a musician and as the founder of the successful Gondwana Records label. Based in the northern city of Manchester, two hundred miles and a lifestyle away from London, Halsall debuted in 2008 with Sending My Love, on which he unveiled his distinctive ...

Album

The Storyteller: A Musical Tribute To Yusef Lateef

Label: Jazzman Records
Released: 2019
Track listing: Tales Of Saba; Ching Miau; Love Theme From Spartacus; Mashariki; Morning; Ringo Oiwake; Brother John; Willow’s Walk; Not Yet Ornette; Inward Flight; Salaam Brother Yusef.


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