wed 16/10/2019

Matthew Halsall/Zara McFarlane, Ronnie Scott's | reviews, news & interviews

Matthew Halsall/Zara McFarlane, Ronnie Scott's

Matthew Halsall/Zara McFarlane, Ronnie Scott's

Young Mancunian trumpeter holds the audience rapt, while accomplished vocalist offers spirit and charm

Halsall: a low, strong and lingering power

Fronting her four piece band - pianist Peter Edwards and saxophonist Binker Golding among them - the young jazz/soul singer Zara McFarlane performs a mix of new songs and tunes from her album, Until Tomorrow. Among the former, “Woman in the Olive Groves” is inspired by a midnight taxi ride through southern Italy, passing an African woman by the highway, among the olive groves, trading her sex.

This is set beside “Chiaroscuro” – what a word to get your jazz chops around – which gives Golding the chance to demonstrate the effect of light against dark in sound. There's a fine version of her album's title song, and a cover of “Police and Thieves” that wrings the street poetry and stature from it. McFarlane has the voice, the spirit, and the charm; you can tell, and it has an impact.

He demonstrates a sky-blue tone smeared with cloudy spirits, a full-cream sound in an astral body

Halsall, the young Mancunian trumpeter now on his fourth album, Fletcher Moss Park, takes to the stage to a sold out house, with a four piece line-up up of pianist Taz Modi, Rob Turner on drums and bassist Gavin Barras. Halsall stands only when he plays, otherwise crouching on the decks as pianist Modi plays in with an elegant, percussive solo on “Music for a Dancing Mind”, the first of several tunes from his On The Go album. When Halsall plays, he demonstrates a sky-blue tone smeared with cloudy spirits, a full-cream sound in an astral body, a spectral element.

"Song for Charlie" is a slow, mournful seata, a dialogue between lead trumpet, supple bass, brushed drums and piano. “The End of Dukkha” begins as the aural equivalent of a bas-relief in which half-recognisable figures emerge. The quartet picks up its weight and Halsall plays in the lower registers, with a low, strong and lingering power. They're joined on "Shabata" by harpist Rachel Gladwin, embarking on a slow, heat-seeking groove. “The Journey Home” is a full-ensemble exploration with an emphasis on group spirit over solo voice, and they're augmented for the last few, new and untitled numbers by Keiko Kitamura on Koto, and Shakuhachi player Clive Bell.

Bell's Shauhachi takes the first solo against a pressure drop of bass, brushed drums and piano in a striking fusion of jazz and Japanese, and when it comes, Halsall's solo is breathtaking. This is great stuff. The audience is rapt - even the waiting staff between table orders, turn their attention to the subtle magic on stage.  

Even the waiting staff between table orders turn their attention to the subtle magic on stage


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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