Matthew Halpin – ‘Chords’ – News, reviews, articles and commentary from the London jazz scene and beyond


Matthew Halpin – The agreements

(Frutex Tracks FT012 – Album review by Peter Slavid)

Matthieu halpin is a powerful and imaginative saxophonist, composer and improviser, born in Dublin and now based in Ireland and Germany. Like many creative musicians, he spent time in Berklee and downtown Banff with Dave Douglas and Vijay Iyer. His solos often have an advantage that I can only describe as “pleasantly dissonant”.

He has led a number of groups and performed in many others, but this is his first album. It is especially interesting because it manages to be a lot of different things at the same time. The music is very often melodic, some songs have a retro feel, and others come straight out of the space age. It is driven by the compositions, but also by the sound of the Hammond organ.

Downes Kit has been one of the Hammond organ’s most eloquent champions in recent years, adding a Rising Star nomination in the Downbeat Poll to his other accolades. The Hammond gives music a special sound, whether it’s a riff or a groove.

Irish drummer Sean Carpio has popped up in all kinds of different environments including electronics, spoken word and others, and I remember a great album from his band Wowos a few years ago.

german jazz guitarist Hanno Busch has his own trio and comes from a background involving both jazz and pop music

Put these four together, with the percussionist Sergio Martinez, created a truly fresh and innovative sound.

There is a lot of variety in the styles available here. The opening track begins with a scary organ and guitar sound to which the sax arrives with a short melody. This then develops with a slightly choked sound until the guitar takes over and the melody returns. It ends with everyone joining in with another chilling collective improvisation.

In contrast, the second track begins with a clean rock beat with a spiky melody, and the third track is a slow bluesy melody starting with guitar and a gasping saxophone giving the whole track a retro feel.

These style changes continue throughout the album. I particularly liked the short Treetown, Guided by Carpion with occasional saxophonist interventions and the album ends with To sleep which adds the voices of the singers Veronika Morscher, Laura Totenhagen, and Rebekka Salomea Ziegler – three members of the experimental a capella quartet Of Cabbages and Kings – reciting a short lullaby.

Lots of variety mixed with a lot of imagination make for a fascinating forty-five minutes.

The agreements are published today, May 14, 2021

CONNECT: The agreements on Bandcamp

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