Mathew Halsall pochádza z Manchesteru. Je talentovaným trubkárom, kapelníkom, skladateľom, aranžérom a šéfom vydavateľstva Gondwana Records, ktoré sa rýchlo rozširuje skvelými mladými umelcami z moderného sveta jazzu. Gondwana Records sa predstavia v Prahe a to už 21.3. počas festivalu Spectaculare. V príležitosti koncertu tohto skvelého jazzmana vám ponúkame exkluzívne náš starší, no doposiaľ nezverejnený 10-otázkový emailový rozhovor s Mathew Halsallom.
1) What was your first contact with music, can you recall an album or a song that stuck with you in particular?
My earliest memory of listening to music would have to be listening to The Beatles, myself and my brothers absolutely loved the film Yellow Submarine and watched it repeatedly as children. I also remember listening to Abbey Road, Octopus’s Garden in particular.
2) I read that you’re first started playing trumpet at the age of six. Were your parents musical at all, did they recognize your talent? Were you more or less serious about playing music even at such a young age?
Yes, I was around six years old, my parents took me to a Sunday afternoon jazz club and I heard a big band performing Dizzy Gillespie’s, A Night In Tunisia and Miles Davis’s, Milestones. The trumpet solos blew me away and I soon picked up the trumpet. My parents had a passion for art and culture in a kind of relaxed way. It was naturally around the house all the time, we always had a piano which everyone loved to play and we always had lots of vinyl and CDs and an amazing futuristic Bang and Olufsen record player which made the whole experience super exciting.
3) At the age of 14, you were already touring the world, which is frankly hard to even conceive of. How’d you manage to balance music and school, did you have any time for friends at all?
Yes, by the time I was fourteen I’d performed with jazz big bands in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and also toured Australia as well as extensive UK tours. I learnt a lot through these experiences but you’re right as a result my schoolwork suffered. I’d already made my mind up as was going to be a professional musician and that’s all that mattered to me. I built lots of great friendships with musicians out of school and also had lots of friends through my love of sport; I loved playing football, rugby, tennis, and golf.
4) Your 2008 debut album Sending My Love came out to great reviews and a lot of airplay on stations such as BBC Radio 1 and Jazz FM. Would you describe this as your breakthrough period?
Yes, I guess it was, myself and my brother (Daniel) who made the decision to set up a record label (Gondwana Records). I focussed on the music/business side of things and he would work on the graphic design and artwork. I’d managed to save up enough money to record a bunch of musicians with engineer Brendan Williams in an ensemble room at Salford University. We were obsessed with the Rudy Van Gelder sound at this point and searched long and hard for photos and text on how he recorded.
5) There are a few really interesting recordings on your SoundCloud page of compositions by John and Alice Coltrane as well as your originals from the BBC Maida Vale Studios. Could you tell us a bit about the sessions and your choice of material?
Well, I thought it would be nice to use the BBC Maida Vale sessions as an opportunity to show my influences alongside some tracks from the albums. We recorded the tracks A Love Supreme and Bill Lee’s, John Coltrane for Gilles Peterson’s show on BBC Radio 1 and Journey In Satchidananda and Blue Nile for Jamie Cullum’s show on BBC Radio 2, we also did a session for Stuart Maconie on BBC Radio 6 which features a couple of unreleased tracks I created around that time.
6) What are some of your current musical favorites that you like to listen to, in any genre?
I’ve recently been listening to Christian Scott, Kahil El’Zabar, Dwight Trible, Build An Ark, Dexter Story, Jimi Tenor, Michael White, Lonnie Liston Smith, Roy Ayers, The Cinematic Orchestra and Phil France.
7) Do you feel like jazz is on the rise again these days, or is it more of a marginal genre? Is there a way you can think of to get teenagers to listen to music?
Since I set up my record label in 2008 I’ve noticed a steady increase in interest. I’ve also seen a broad demographic attending our live shows across the UK and Europe. I think jazz is in a great place with artists such as Christian Scott, Portico Quartet, The Cinematic Orchestra, Phil France, GoGo Penguin and Mammal Hands pushing the boundaries, blending traditional jazz with electronica and various other genres.
8) Apart from your work in jazz, you’re also a DJ. Is DJ-ing something you do more or less on a side to take a rest from the trumpet and your jazz projects, or is something you consider an equal part of your music career?
I use DJ-ing as an excuse to justify my constantly growing record collection. I get as much out of listening and sharing music as I do performing and creating it. I recently started doing a monthly radio show on Reform Radio in Manchester where you can hear a super broad collection of my influences. I also believe knowledge is the key to success and I’ve learned so much from listening over the years.
9) I noticed there is quite a lot of hip-hop interweaved in your DJ sets, how and when did you start to like it? Which are some of your favorite hip-hop records?
Well, hip-hop was a very popular genre when I was growing up, I remember buying the Beastie Boys album Hello Nasty on cassette from Tower Records in Kuala Lumpur on tour when I was fourteen. DJ’s such as Gilles Peterson and Mr. Scruff introduced me a lot of great albums such as A Tribe Called Quests Low End Theory and Midnight Marauders, and through hearing those I started searching for any hip-hop which sampled jazz records and discovered Digable Planets Reachin’ (a new refutation of time and space) and Blow Outcomb plus a whole bunch of other great records.
10) Your record, When The World Was One, received a lot of praise, including being named the iTunes jazz album of the year. Can we hope to see you take in on tour to Slovakia (or at least somewhere nearby)?
I would love to perform in Slovakia, however, I’ve learned to be patient over the years, timing is everything, it’s got to be the right promoter, venue/festival. When this combination is locked in place everyone wins as they’re all into the music.
Text: Krištof Budke