Gig review: Matthew Halsall/GoGo Penguin, Glasgow

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WHILE the roster of headline artists had a familiar look this year, the Glasgow Jazz Festival programme also featured some intriguing names further down the bill.

Matthew Halsall/ GoGo Penguin - City Halls, Glasgow

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This double bill turned the spotlight on the new music coalescing around trumpeter Matthew Halsall’s Gondwana Records label in Manchester.

GoGo Penguin opened the show with their own take on the contemporary piano trio. Pianist Chris Illingworth, bassist Nick Blacka and drummer Rob Turner readily acknowledge the influence of the late Esbjorn Svensson and EST on their music, in tandem with non-jazz inspirations stretching from Debussy to Aphex Twin.

They are widely tipped as a band to watch, and their energy levels and forceful interplay backed that up, driven by Turner’s juggernaut drumming.

The music is more about power and repetition than development, and as such still feels a bit one-dimensional – it will be interesting to see where they take it.

By contrast, much of Matthew Halsall’s set, with a six-piece band featuring wooden flute and harp, was devoted to a spacious, slow-moving suite of music named for Fletcher Moss Park in Manchester, where much of it was composed.

Debussy as an influence made much more sense in this context, with subtle contrasts of musical colour and timbre, and a strong hint of Orientalism in several of the compositions. The closing tune from an earlier project switched gear to a thicker and more energised sound.

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