The recordings on Oneness date from Jan, March and September 2008 and were born from a period of experimentation as Halsall first began to explore the music that would provide the inspiration for his spiritual jazz recordings Fletcher Moss Park and When the World Was One. They also offer an intriguing snapshot into the birth of Halsall’s Gondwana Orchestra and feature many musicians who would go on to become a key part of Halsall’s musical journey, such as harpist Rachel Gladwin, bassist Gavin Barras and saxophonist Nat Birchall. The recordings sat in the Gondwana Records vaults for over a decade before Halsall felt it was the right time to share them. Asked about the recordings Halsall says:
“I’ve always treasured these recordings and loved how vulnerable, open and free they are, but I just felt they were too subtle and sensitive to release early on in my career, so I held them back until now. I also feel now is the right time to release these before I begin a fresh journey with a new bunch of musicians.”
Remarkably, the beautiful compositions heard here were all built around a simple tanpura drone sound. An instrument Halsall heard on Alice Coltrane’s ‘Journey In Satchidananda’ album and then at a later date in a concert featuring Arun Ghosh on clarinet and John Ellis on piano. “I loved the way this instrument created a sort of meditative atmospheric pulse for the musicians to work over and it had this beautiful feeling of togetherness, so after the gig I went out and bought a Raagini Shruti box featuring the tanpura drone and began to practice my trumpet over it and wrote lots of loose themes and melodies”.