The whole original point of spiritual jazz was to not only include an emotional attachment to your spiritual self, no matter what that may be, but in that respect, also as many musical strands you could include to express that spiritual element through music.
That same concept still lives on, and British composer/musician Matthew Halsall has been expressing it through his 15 years on the music scene and eight albums so far. This is more evident than ever in Calder Shapes, his latest.
Where this album stands out is that Halsall was able, without sacrificing any of his previous musical ideas, to make his music even more approachable to an even wider audience, drawing inspiration not only from spiritual jazz greats like Alice Coltrane or Pharoah Sanders but also, purveyors of musical forms that seem more popular, like electronica and post-rock.
Here, Halsall has gone beyond his usual range of instruments, particularly his excellent trumpet playing, and has not only brought in subtle electronic music elements, but a more pronounced and wider range of percussion instruments, which has expanded the range of his music and has given it that extra touch that makes it so appealing. Certainly, one of the better spiritual jazz albums of 2023.
Matthew Halsall – ‘Calder Shapes’ Review
On 'Calder Shapes,' composer/multi-instrumentalist Matthew Halsall presents his modern vision of spiritual jazz.