Loving Kindness

A 2 track world fusion single (19m 38s) — released September 20th 2019 on Gondwana Records



Gondwana Records GONDCD033 / GONDLP033 / 3LP/CD/DL / Release Date 27/09/2019

Matthew Halsall to release Oneness. A triple vinyl set of archive recordings featuring three sessions of deep meditative spiritual-jazz in a deluxe edition, designed by Ian Anderson of The Designer's Republic.

The recordings on Oneness date from Jan, March and September 2008 and were born from a period of experimentation as Halsall first began to explore the music that would provide the inspiration for his spiritual jazz recordings Fletcher Moss Park and When the World Was One. They also offer an intriguing snapshot into the birth of Halsall's Gondwana Orchestra and feature many musicians who would go on to become a key part of Halsall's musical journey, such as harpist Rachel Gladwin, bassist Gavin Barras and saxophonist Nat Birchall. The recordings sat in the Gondwana Records vaults for over a decade before Halsall felt it was the right time to share them. Asked about the recordings Halsall says:

"I've always treasured these recordings and loved how vulnerable, open and free they are, but I just felt they were too subtle and sensitive to release early on in my career, so I held them back until now. I also feel now is the right time to release these before I begin a fresh journey with a new bunch of musicians."

Remarkably, the beautiful compositions heard here were all built around a simple tanpura drone sound. An instrument Halsall heard on Alice Coltrane's 'Journey In Satchidananda' album and then at a later date in a concert featuring Arun Ghosh on clarinet and John Ellis on piano. "I loved the way this instrument created a sort of meditative atmospheric pulse for the musicians to work over and it had this beautiful feeling of togetherness, so after the gig I went out and bought a Raagini Shruti box featuring the tanpura drone and began to practice my trumpet over it and wrote lots of loose themes and melodies".

The sessions that make up Oneness capture Halsall in the process of building a new band, reaching out to various musicians he'd discovered and admired on the Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds music scene. "I really liked this idea of bringing lots of musicians together from different backgrounds and was fascinated with how they would all react to each other and the tanpura drone box seemed to bring everyone together really well, it was kind of like a nice meditative icebreaker exercise for everyone to loosen up, before we got stuck into the more composed tunes I'd created, some of which ended up on the Sending My Love and Colour Yes albums".

The album's title, Oneness, speaks to both Halsall's conviction that the planet should be shared equally with all of its inhabitants. That no human being or other inhabitant deserves to exist more than the other and that we can achieve far more together than against each other. And also importantly to what Halsall was aiming for musically:

"I really believe in Oneness and I've always loved the term 'greater than the sum of its parts'. I could make music on my own and live a fairly isolated antisocial life, but there's something far more rewarding about creating things with others. And for me these sessions document the coming together of lots of different musicians in a wonderfully organic soulful way to make egoless music".

It's a belief that continues to underpin Matthew's music making and a message that the word sorely needs right now as we feel more divided and separated than ever. This then is Oneness, a decade in the making and well worth the wait. Enjoy!

For further information please contact kerstan@gondwanarecords.com


Matthew Halsall remembers the Oneness sessions:

Session One: Stan's Harp / Loving Kindness / Distant Land (Tracks 3, 4 and 5) - Recorded Jan 2008

Matthew Halsall – trumpet, Nat Birchall – saxophone, Stan Ambrose – harp, Adam Fairhall – piano, Gavin Barras – bass, Gaz Hughes - drums

These three recordings were made very early on, and feature harpist Stan Ambrose, a super nice gentle old man I met whilst living/studying in Liverpool. I remember he used to do these beautiful improvised solo harp sessions in a vegetarian cafe called the 'Green Fish Cafe' that I frequently ate in and I loved his playing and he was also really into meditation and spiritual philosophy so I asked him if he fancied doing some recordings with myself and a couple of other carefully selected musicians and he said yes. I remember the session feeling quite special, we recorded it with Brendan Williams in the ensemble room at the Adephi Building at Salford University and it featured Nat Birchall on sax, Adam Fairhall on piano, Gavin Barras on bass and Gaz Hughes on drums and I think everyone was really taken by Stan (who was about 77 years old at the time), as he was such a beautiful gentle old man who played with a super meditative style. I remember the sun shining in through the large glass windows and it felt like quite a magical session. Sadly Stan died in 2016 (aged 86) and this is the only recording session we did together, so it feels nice to be able to share this story and for people to hear his wonderful soulful playing again.

Session Two: Life / Oneness (Tracks 1 and 2) - Recorded March 2008

Matthew Halsall – trumpet, Nat Birchall – saxophone, Rachael Gladwin – harp, Adam Fairhall – piano, Gavin Barras – bass, Gaz Hughes - drums

The main difference on these two tracks is the inclusion of Rachael Gladwin on harp, who I discovered through a musician friend in the folk world (Nancy Elizabeth), as they both performed together in a harp trio. When I asked Nancy about potential harpist for my project she suggested Rachael, so I reached out and asked her if she fancied recording some music. Rachael was the perfect fit for the music I was trying to create and connected really well with the other musicians and although I really loved Stan's playing Rachael brought her own magic to these recordings and all of things that we did together subsequently.

Looking back I remember finding it quite hard to find people who could connect with the music I was interested in creating, as I wanted it to have a spiritual/egoless feel and a lot of the musicians who had come through the education system just wanted to flex out with all the stuff they'd been studying and my music just wasn't about that. So I had to tread carefully when building the band, and one of the first musician who I felt fitted in with this approach was pianist Adam Fairhall, who I'd met a couple of years earlier in Crewe. Adam and I really connected, as he loved all the Miles Davis / McCoy Tyner stuff I was into. At a similar time I met bassist Gavin Barras at one of my favourite jam sessions (run by saxophonist Ed Kainyek) at the King's Arms in Salford, in those sessions I jammed with lots of different musicians, but when I played with Gavin it always felt good, as he had a really nice feel and seemed to understand my playing. I think the drummer Gaz Hughes was recommended to me by flautist Chip Wickham and he had a super sensitive side to his playing and really listened to the musicians around him which was key for me. Finally, I discovered Nat Birchall's sax playing through a musician friend Bernard Moss, so I reached out to him online and then went to hear him play at Matt & Phreds Jazz Club and really loved his playing and vibe.

Session Three: Stories From India / The Traveller (Tracks 6 and 7) - Recorded Sep 2008

Matthew Halsall – trumpet, Mohamed Assani – sitar, Gavin Barras – bass, Chris Davies - tabla

This session happened a little later, but still features the tanpura drone box, alongside Gavin on double bass, but it features a couple of Indian instruments (tabla and sitar). Whilst I loved performing with larger groups of musicians in a more traditional jazz space, I was also really interested in taking my music out of this world and began to do gigs in art galleries, meditation centres and at poetry and literacy events and for those gigs I always worked with my good friend Chris Davies who played tabla and various other bits of percussion, plus flute and sax. We shared the same passion for meditation and spiritual philosophy and I loved making music with him. In addition to Gavin and Chris I reached out to a sitar player who I'd discovered in Leeds (Mohamed Assani), as I had always loved the sound of the sitar, it has a wonderful magical spiritual sound. The titles are a nod to my mother who had travelled around India a lot and always brought back lots of beautiful Indian music and shared many stories and photos of her adventures.

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