Gunnar Halle

Istanbul Sky


Music, said pianist Krystian Zimerman, is using sound to organise emotion in time, and this is manifest in this eclectic collection by trumpeter Gunnar Halle in Istanbul Sky, his solo debut on the Ozella label.

This is undoubtedly Halle’s most personal project to date, a leap into the unknown for a composer who refuses to be bracketed by any single movement or style, and so Istanbul Sky is a motley assembly of new work, which took root in Istanbul, but flowered in Oslo.

There is much shifting of mood and tempo and so, unusually for a debut collection, some tracks do not seamlessly segue. The electronic-pop opener, Istanbul Sky, with Halle on vocals, doesn’t reflect the peaks to follow, and the mood alters significantly by the fourth minute with Port, with Halle back on familiar territory, a sumptuous horn solo, and soft percussion from Knut Finsrud,

Less an homage to Europe’s crucible of musical trends, Istanbul Sky is Halle’s reworking of his many influences – jazz, jazz fusion, pop – but structured by his passion for contemporary electronics: Lordag, a hybrid of early Emerson, Lake and Palmer and Jethro Thull, stops and starts, a pedestrian crossing of twists and turns .

Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t: Snoting exudes the acoustic ambient sonorties of Halle’s plaintive and haunting horn, an age away from the aforementioned Lordag, a coming together of self confident and reverential light rock meets funk. The former is indisputably Scandinavian, and the latter West Coast Americana.

However, Halle, whose careers includes playing on seventy albums, is his own man, and throws whatever takes his fancy into the stew, which is why Port refers to both a gate in his garden and Portishead.

You can’t help but indulge Weightless, maybe because it is reminiscent of the mood of Groove Armada’s At The River, but it is nonetheless gorgeous, and is the ideal example of Halle’s starting point, a flowing coalition of all his different influences, from Louis Armstrong to John Tchicai. Istanbul Sky will put a smile on your face.

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