Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Matthew Halsall - Salute to the Sun / Live at Hallé St. Peter's (December 3, 2021 Gondwana Records)

Salute to the Sun: Live at Hallé St Peter’s documents a very special concert recorded at the iconic Manchester venue during lockdown.

Released in November 2020, Matthew’s Halsall’s Salute to the Sun was the trumpeter’s first album since 2015’s Into Forever and marked the debut of his new band. A hand-picked ensemble featuring some of Manchester’s finest young musicians. The album drew it’s energy from the band’s weekly sessions and was inspired by Halsall’s love of nature. Lush and spiritual it received universal praise, but Halsall and his band were frustrated that they were unable to share their beautiful new sound live with an audience.

On November 25th 2020, Halsall took his band into the iconic Manchester venue, Hallé St Peter’s, for a concert recording in aid of the charity Mind, that was streamed on January 21st 2021 to a global audience in the thousands. The concert was also recorded for posterity.

“When we recorded Salute to the Sun, I wanted to create something playful but also quite earthy and organic that connected to the sounds in nature. It seemed to strike a chord with people and I was blown away by the response to the album. Our concert film, recorded at the height of last winter’s lockdown was a special moment for us all and I feel that the concert recording captured something beautiful that we wanted to share”.
Salute to the Sun: Live at Hallé St Peter’s features Matthew Halsall – trumpet, Matt Cliffe - flute & saxophone, Maddie Herbert – harp, Gavin Barras – bass, Liviu Gheorghe – piano, Alan Taylor – drums and Jack McCarthy - percussion

The recording has been mixed by Matthew Halsall and George Atkins at 80 Hertz and is mastered by Peter Beckmann at Technology Works. The vinyl was cut at Calyx in Berlin and the album is pressed at Optimal in Germany. It is presented in the form of a limited edition 2LP set with artwork by legendary designer Ian Anderson of The Designers Republic.

Spread over three sides of the vinyl LP for maximum fidelity the fourth side of the LP (side D) features an etching of Daniel Halsall’s now iconic artwork for the album Salute to the Sun and copies are strictly limited with just 3000 available in total. The album will also be available for download and on streaming platforms.

All prices shown are “NET of VAT” (Value Added Tax). VAT will be calculated and added at the checkout. You will be charged the appropriate rate which will vary depending on the country.

This release was uploaded at 24 bit / 88.2 kHz and available in FLAC, WAV, AIFF or MP3 and available in FLAC, WAV, AIFF or MP3. 

1. Harmony with Nature (Live at Hallé St Peter's)
2. Joyful Spirits of the Universe (Live at Hallé St Peter's)
3. Canopy & Stars (Live at Hallé St Peter's)
4. Mindfulness Meditations (Live at Hallé St Peter's)
5. Tropical Landscapes (Live at Hallé St Peter's)
6. Salute to the Sun (Live at Hallé St Peter's)

Matthew Halsall – trumpet
Matt Cliffe - flute & saxophone
Maddie Herbert – harp
Gavin Barras – bass
Liviu Gheorghe – piano
Alan Taylor – drums
Jack McCarthy - percussion

Liam Ryan - Woven Not Stranded (December 11, 2021)

Woven Not Stranded is the third in the M2M trilogy and a homage to my musical roots - from playing disco in Auckland clubs 6 nights a week, years of touring playing rhythm and blues and jazz and, before all of that my love of classical music and my early days playing violin in orchestras. It's eclectic; it's all here. The title, Woven Not Stranded, is a nod to my inspiring grandmother Elsie who was a weaver and poet. She practised her art in the middle of nowhere up the Awatere Valley in the South Island NZ. I often feel the same solitude working on my music in the provinces - especially in The Time of Covid. And yet we all remain connected. By the strands of whanau and aroha that bind us. Woven Not Stranded.

1. Cosmic Lounge 06:00
2. Afrodisiac 04:19
3. Waltz for Amanda 04:42
4. Get Jive! 04:38
5. Soul Refrain 05:04
6. Royal Blues 05:57
7. Soul Refrain (Mudshark Monday Mix) 06:04

Guitar: Nick Granville, Dean Hetherington, Chet O'Connell, Regan Perry.
Bass: Peter Stroud, Liam Ryan
Saxophone: Alex Nyman, Hayden Baird
Horns: Rodger Fox, Jack Harre, Mike Booth
Drums: Steve Garden, Josh Sorenson
Hammond, pianos, synth and strings: Liam Ryan
Harp: Midge Marsden, Haggis Macguiness
Vocals: Sarah Spicer, Liam Ryan
Percussion and voice Artist: Amir Yussof

Producer: Liam Ryan
Mastering: Mike Bloemendal
Photography: Harry Harrison
Artwork: Mike Dunn/Tribal Brands

Jeff Parker - Forfolks (December 10, 2021 International Anthem)

Album liner notes by Matthew Lux:

Years ago when Jeff and I were in a band together, I always insisted that our records could not have any liner notes. I was enthralled with the idea that imparting any information beyond the music itself was heresy. As if whatever the sound didn't convey needed to be left to the listener. Somehow, I was able to hold this opinion while simultaneously voraciously consuming every record jacket, CD cover, cassette J card and whatever else I could get my hands on regarding any music that interested me. Many years and finally the making of my own album forced me to confront my cognitive dissonance and recognize context can help the audience find their place in the art that they enjoy. That context is especially necessary when the artist is as under-appreciated yet influential as Jeff Parker.

When I met Jeff, he was the first adult (24 years old to my 18) whose musical taste was as broad as mine and my friends. He liked Eric Dolphy, De La Soul, ‘70s Miles, and Donny Hathaway. We first played together in the living room of my parents’ apartment. We agreed to each bring a friend to round out a group. He brought the amazing and criminally under-represented Sara P. Smith on trombone, and I brought my high school band mate Chad Taylor on drums. Chad and I were certainly outclassed that day, but nevertheless we all became fast friends. A few weeks later, at our regular jam session at the Bop Shop, I told my girlfriend (now wife) to pay attention to Jeff. "He's going to be important," I said.

The Chicago that Parker had moved to was ripe with young musicians eager to push at the boundaries. There weren't many venues catering to these new attempts at mixing things up, but slowly a number of great bands coalesced out of a group of like-minded friends, mixing everyone's backgrounds whether punk, disco, jazz or whatever. I clearly remember going to see New Horizons Ensemble at the Hothouse with Jeff, then a few weeks later going to the Empty Bottle to see Tortoise. Within months he'd be in both those bands. He was instrumental in forging a link between players with different styles that helped define the sound of creative music in ‘90s Chicago.

It's a particular thing to hear Jeff play solo. He is an unusually selfless improviser, often times laying out and highlighting the contributions of his band mates. He's never been one to play three notes where none would suffice. On this recording however he is by himself, joined only by his own ideas, looped or frozen, to flesh out the music he's creating in his mind. Hearing him craft entire sound worlds on these eight selections gives us an opportunity to really see how Parker orders sound.
He has been ordering sound with an amazingly diverse array of artists and collaborators for the past three decades. While it's common for a professional musician to be versed in many styles, that normally means a succession of genre tropes deployed to ensure the listener knows exactly where they are and what's supposed to be happening. A guitarist, for example, might play a Nile Rogers type rhythm on Disco or Funk, a favorite B.B. King lick on a blues or a Wes Montgomery phrase over a standard. Parker rarely does anything this overt. While perfectly capable (Once, in the studio, at the behest of a musician we were working with, I heard him take a solo that could have been an outtake from a Steely Dan album), he eschews genre playing and chooses a painterly approach to coloring the music, maintaining a deeply personal voice without weighing down the music with obvious stylistic maneuverings. His unique approach fits so well into so many contexts precisely because SOUND is his main focus and concern. One can clearly hear the breadth of Black Music in Parker’s playing. He is part of a continuum of musicians extending back to antiquity.

The structures here challenge our preconceptions of background and foreground. ALL the layers are primary. We are presented with fully integrated sonic developments rather than accompaniment, melody, or "soloing". Often times a solo album is an excuse for an artist to display their virtuosity. The idea being, possibly, that unencumbered by other musicians, the soloist is free to ride off on flights of fancy. But a career spent in the practice of subtlety is thankfully apparent in every song here. On Forfolks, a standard of the Great American Songbook fits comfortably next to multi-layered improvisations, a Thelonious Monk tune, and several compositions of Parker’s own, dating back twenty-five years.

Monk, I find to be an apt comparison. Both men were deeply involved in some of the most progressive musical movements of their respective generations, neither gaining much renown at the time, but both kept on doing things in their own quietly iconoclastic ways until the world caught up with them some twenty years later. I was fortunate enough to recognize the first time I heard Jeff Parker thirty years ago that I was witnessing something very special. 

1. Off Om
2. Four Folks
3. My Ideal
4. Suffolk
5. Flour Of Fur
6. Ugly Beauty
7. Excess Success
8. La Jetée

Jeff Parker - electric guitar

Engineered by Graeme Gibson at Sholo Studio in Altadena, California on June 28th & 29th, 2021.

Mixed by Graeme Gibson in Cypress Park, Los Angeles, California on July 15th & 16th, 2021.

Sequenced by Scott McNiece.
Mastered by David Allen.

Photography by Lee Anne Schmitt.
Liner Notes by Matthew Lux.
Design by Jeremiah Chiu.

Produced by Scott McNiece.

Portico Quartet - Monument (November 2021 Gondwana Records)

Portico Quartet announce Monument, the electronic driven follow-up to their acclaimed ambient-minimalist suite Terrain, presenting the band at their most direct.

It's rare that a band releases two albums within six months of each other, rarer too that while both are so different, they are both as epochal in terms of the band's output as Terrain and Monument are to Portico Quartet. The irony is that Monument, a stripped-back, intentionally direct album, was the album that the band set out to write in May 2020, before the dream like long-form Terrain came into focus. Briefly they were two halves of the same record, but the band ended up developing these two distinct bodies of work concurrently. And although they were written side-by-side and recorded at the same sessions, they are records best understood as distinct from each other, each with opposing ideas and forms.

Monument is one of Portico Quartet's most accessible, direct records to date. If Terrain addressed the darker side of how Duncan Bellamy and Jack Wyllie made sense of the pandemic, then Monument resonates as an ode to better times. If not quite a dance record, it nonetheless pulses with an energy, radiance and a scalpel sharp focus. Jack Wyllie explains: "It's possibly our most direct album to date. It's melodic, structured and there's an economy to it that is very efficient. There's not much searching or wastage within the music itself, it is all finalised ideas, precisely sculpted and presented as a polished artefact."

Bellamy expands "Monument sits somewhere between our albums Portico Quartet and Art in the Age of Automation. It has perhaps a more overtly electronic edge to its sound – there are more synthesisers and electronic elements than we have used before and the music is often streamlined and rhythmic".
After the ethereal, stage-setting of Opening, the album kicks into overdrive with Impressions, a short energetic track that pairs a club influenced groove with hang drum and close, delicate saxophone. It's the balance between these elements that push and pull the track through a selection of melodic and rhythmic re-configurations, contrasting human touch with a machine-like focus. Ultraviolet is a kaleidoscopic, krautrock inspired track with a haunting introduction and an insistent pulse. The wistful Ever Present builds from a simple piano refrain; a nostalgic melody line floats over the top as drums and bass groove insistently underneath, before reaching a euphoric peak. The title track Monument builds around a looping vocal sample, drums and an enigmatic melody, the ending giving way to a gauzy, weaving synth line. The power here is in its economy and luminosity. AOE flips back and forth, like a dial that's been switched. Mining the tension between a pastoral inflected cello and saxophone melody, with an abrupt shift to jilted live drums, wailing delayed saxophone and a flickering synth line. Warm Data comes straight from the same Portico Quartet tradition as older tracks like Current History and Laker-Boo. It's a marriage of instrumental minimalism with drum machines and synths. Finally, the album closes with On The Light, a track that transmits a sense of suspense and freedom, driven by the twitching drums of Bellamy and evocative sax of Wyllie. It offers the perfect bitter-sweet and evocative ending to Portico Quartet's latest Monument.

1. Opening 02:50
2. Impressions 03:44
3. Ultraviolet 05:12
4. Ever Present 04:48
5. Gateway 01:14
6. Monument 04:40
7. A.O.E 05:35
8. Warm Data 08:16
9. Portal 01:09
10. On the Light 06:28

Mastered by John Davis at Metropolis. Artwork by Duncan Bellamy for Veils Project.

All prices shown are “NET of VAT” (Value Added Tax). VAT will be calculated and added at the checkout. You will be charged the appropriate rate which will vary depending on the country.

This release was uploaded at 24 bit / 44.1 kHz and available in FLAC, WAV, AIFF or MP3 and available in FLAC, WAV, AIFF or MP3. 

Nigel Price Organ Trio - The Real Deal (November 2021)

Over a career spanning more than 25 years, award winning jazz guitarist Nigel Price has become widely acknowledged as one of the hardest working musicians in the business.

His blend of flowing bebop lines, deep blues sensibility and his mastery of chording continue to delight audiences and fellow musicians alike.

1. All In 11:47
2. Parker 51 07:32
3. Jeannine 05:46
4. Hit The Road 06:16
5. It's Not Alright With Me 07:54
6. If I Were A Bell 05:19
7. Mozambique 07:27
8. Fool's Gold 08:18

Nigel Price - Guitar
Pete Whittaker / Ross Stanley - Organ
Matt Home - Drums
Vasilis Xenopoulos - Tenor saxophone
Alex Garnett - Tenor saxophone on 'It's not alright with me'

Brötzmann / Gania / Drake - The "WELS" Concert (November 2021 trost records)

Recorded at Schlachthof Wels (Austria), 8th november 1996.

This album was released on Okka Disk 1997, OD12013

1. Part 1 25:46
2. Part 2 25:15
3. Part 3 19:16

Peter Brötzmann - tárogató, e-flat clarinet, alto & tenor saxophone
Maleem Mahmoud Gania - guembri, voice
Hamid Drake -frame drum, tablas, drums

Mastered by John McCortney
Artwork by Raimund Van Well

BRÖTZMANN / SCHLIPPENBACH / JOHANSSON - Up and down the Lion - revised (November 2021 trost records)

Recorded in Härnösand, Sweden, September 9, 1979

This album was released on Olof Bright 2010, OBCD 26

1. 1 18:07
2. 2 07:27
3. 3 06:31
4. 4 14:39
5. 5 10:29

Peter Brötzmann - saxophone
Alexander von Schlippenbach - piano
Sven-Åke Johansson - drums

Graphics – Karin Almlöf, Sven-Åke Johansson

Chip Wickham - Sais (Egypt) November 2021 Gondwana Records

Gondwana Records are delighted to welcome saxophonist and flautist Chip Wickham to the family. An original member of the Gondwana Orchestra, Chip played on Matthew Halsall’s debut album ‘Sending My Love’ and has regularly played with the Orchestra while also leading his own excellent band.

We’re super delighted that Chip has now signed to the label and we’ll be releasing his debut album on the label next year. In the meantime we’re really excited to share his new single ‘Sais (Egypt)’, an uplifting spiritual-jazz piece and a cover of Lonnie Liston Smith’s classic from the maestro’s iconic Cosmic Funk album.

You can also see Chip live at Yes Manchester on November 25th and London’s Ronnie Scott’s on November 27th.

1. Sais (Egypt) 07:42

Robbie Lee - Prismatist (November 2021 Relative Pitch Records)

Robbie Lee is an improviser and sound creator in New York City, performing on an eclectic range of instruments, across the fringes of creative music in many scenes. On Prismatist he plays only two things:  sopranino saxophone and tuning forks with live electronics. They are like two currents alternating through the album, a double helix of contrasting extremities. The sopranino, even higher than the soprano saxophone, twists its way through disintegrating patterns, with a folk-like tonal element coming through the noise. Interspersed between are pieces for tuning forks and live electronics, a kind of musique concrete where the acoustic tuning forks emulate warped sine waves in the open air. They are earthy and organic, with hallucinatory psychoacoustic stereo qualities. As the Prismatist of the album’s title, Robbie Lee splits sound into a spectrum color, with his highly personal musical language.

1. Duskfallen 04:42
2. The Expanded Present 04:34
3. Refractory 01:57
4. Openend 02:08
5. Truetone 01:41
6. Dot Dash 01:28
7. That's Just The Thing 01:55
8. Timecode 02:17
9. Depends on What You Mean By Go Round 04:40
10. Colorfield 02:48
11. The Invention of Blue Sky 02:42
12. Curvilinear 01:30
13. Prismatist 02:38
14. One Great Blooming Buzzing Confusion 01:48

Robbie Lee - sopranino saxophone, tuning forks with live electronics

Matt Gudgeon - Beginnings (November 2021)

Matt Gudgeon is a 23 year old guitarist from Perth, Western Australia.

Having gained experience within Perth's local Jazz music scene, Gudgeon has now released his first record, "Beginnings". This is a trio recording featuring the highly acclaimed Ben Vanderwal on drums and the fine talents of Alistair Peel who is quickly emerging as a highly sort-after double bass player in Perth.

1. S'il Vous Plaît 02:49
2. A Child is Born 04:14
3. Beginnings 05:46
4. Apple of Discord 04:55
5. Till Tomorrow 06:20
6. Ridgewood Way 06:00
7. Szigetvár 07:28

Guitar: Matt Gudgeon
Drums: Ben Vanderwal
Double Bass: Alistair Peel

Mix: Dave Darlington
Recording: Greg Nosow
Artwork: Roberto Rabadan

embryo - Auf Auf (November 2021)

The late Christian Burchard, who founded the Embryo ensemble in 1969, loved the slogan “Auf Auf,” German for “Up, Up,” or “Keep On Going.” Anyone with anything more than a passing interest in the German Krautock scene of the 1970s and 1980s knows that Burchard followed that intent all around the world, tirelessly seeking out new sounds and inspirations and creating a catalog of music unlike most anything else the world has ever heard.

Madlib has often said Embryo is his favorite rock band. Of course the hip-hop producer with the deepest musical knowledge knows Embryo is more than just a rock band.

When Marja Burchard, Christan’s daughter, who grew up with Embryo and toured with them for years, took the reins of the ensemble after Christian’s death in 2018, she started recording what would become the album Auf Auf. It was recorded over the course of two years, finishing it in the throes of the Covid pandemic in 2020. She approached Madlib and Egon – who had visited and jammed with Christian Burchard and Embryo musicians years ago in a Bavarian wine cellar – with the idea to issue Auf Auf on Madlib Invazion.

The reply was a resounding, definitive yes.

So here is Marja’s take on the Embryo ethos, continuing with her father’s intrepid style, and leading the band in her own style. Auf Auf ranges from the deep, free-form jazz of “Alphorn Prayer” to modal music from Afghanistan on “Baran” to psychedelic-tinged jazz-rock of the title track.

Joining Marja are those like Embryo veterans Bunka, on oud and guitar, and Karl Hector and the Malcouns/Whitefield Brothers/Poets of Rhythm producer and guitarist Jan Weissenfeldt and others, including important players on the global scene from Afghanistan and Morocco.

Annotation: Original music composed, arranged and performed by Embryo. Recorded by Maasl Maier and Elias Kahl in Filmwerk Helmbrechts and Kösk München, Germany. Mixed by Maasl Maier. Produced by Maasl Maier and Marja Burchard. Executive Produced by Madlib and Egon. Mastered by Jason Bitner. Art direction by Errol Richardson. 

1. Besh 05:24
2. Yu Mala 04:09
3. Auf Auf 09:08
4. Baran 04:00
5. Januar 16:43
6. Alphorn Prayer 07:41

Embryo is:
Marja Burchard – Organ, Rhodes, Synthesizer, Vibraphone, Trombone, Santur, Percussion, Drums.
Maasl Maier – Bass, Guitar, Saxophone, Synthesizer, Cümbüs.
Jan Weissenfeldt – Guitar.
Wolfi Schlick – Flute, Soprano & Tenor Saxophones.
Jakob Thun – Drums.
Sascha Lüer – Trumpet, Soprano Saxophone.
Roman Bunka – Oud on “Besh.”
Mohcine Ramdan – Ghembri, Vocals on “Yu Mala.”
Abdul Samad Habibi – Rubab on “Baran.”
Parvis Ayan – Tabla on “Baran.”
Johannes Schleiermacher – Tenor Saxophone on “Auf Auf.”
Groxi – Drums on “Alphorn Prayer.”
Münchner Alphorn Kollektiv on “Alphorn Prayer.”