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2019 Highlight: Pulled By Magnets, St John on Bethnal Green, EFG London Jazz Festival

The runaway highlight of the LJF to date thankfully all that had gone in the gig foreplay by the very underwhelming support was instantly erased by Seb Rochford’s darkly churning power trio, a thunderously tenebral vision at work amid the …

Published: 21 Nov 2019. Updated: 6 months.

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The runaway highlight of the LJF to date thankfully all that had gone in the gig foreplay by the very underwhelming support was instantly erased by Seb Rochford’s darkly churning power trio, a thunderously tenebral vision at work amid the sepulchral echoey atmosphere of a spookily resonant church. Rochford, Patti Smith’s drummer of late, did not stint on ladling on the weight and there was a thick wash of electronics bathing Pete Wareham’s tenor sax to aid and abet in very unsentimental fashion. Completing the line-up Neil Charles on bass guitar, chatting to marlbank back stage later mentioned that he’d be gigging with Anthony Braxton soon, now that’s a mouthwatering prospect given the pork pie-hat wearing original Empirical improviser's prowess on this showing. The didgeridoo type sample triggered in one passage was extraordinary. His open sound took me back instantly to his killer Zed-U Concrete bar shows a decade ago with Tom Skinner and Shabaka Hutchings before his fellow Brummie became Kemet famous. ‘Invite Them In’ at the end was the pick. Pulled by Magnets' 2020 album is an exciting prospect to fire-start the scene all over again via their unique mix of dystopian sax, beat wizardry and an avant blues connotation. Make a mental note to seek these guys out. The wheel turns once again and the monk-like presence of Rochford is steering it dazzingly futurewards like no one remotely close on the scene today. Stephen Graham

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Lars Danielsson Group: Liberetto III, Wigmore Hall, EFG London Jazz Festival

One of the world’s great jazz bassists, the Swede Lars Danielsson, whose compositional as well as tonal and melodic gifts as an improviser make him stand out head and shoulders above many of his peers as a leader, was here with the successor in his …

Published: 20 Nov 2019. Updated: 6 months.

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One of the world’s great jazz bassists, the Swede Lars Danielsson, whose compositional as well as tonal and melodic gifts as an improviser make him stand out head and shoulders above many of his peers as a leader, was here with the successor in his group to the ''jazz superstar'' Tigran: French pianist Grégory Privat; the stalwart e.s.t drummer Danielsson’s fellow Swede Magnus Öström; and long-time band guitarist Londoner John Parricelli.

Theirs is a romantic sound that straddles the lilting Nordic landscapes of Danielsson’s imagination and a hybrid Mediterranean sound coloured by Parricelli whose subtle washes of electronics coated his pristine sound in considerable warmth and aided the wag-wah swagger he conjured in the second set.

Danielsson’s beautiful solo late on in the concert on Joni Mitchell’s ‘Both Sides Now’ was the standout moment and deservedly received sustained applause from the packed audience in this famous hall perfect for chamber music that includes this kind of largely quietly delivered and often highly cerebral jazz.

Privat was impressive in the group interplay, less so when he broke out to solo: a routine that often ended up in the same tremolo-loving tightly defined thrashing around space.

Öström was an active scamperingly alert presence using brushes to speed and scurry, sweep up and fill, but the bass ruled and within his expansive realm Danielsson’s affinity with the baroque came into its own decisively on, as he noted, the unusual 4/4-arranged ‘Passacaglia’.

Less successful were the more pastoral travelogue-type passages. However, the material overall drawn from a substantial body of work has a great deal of quality and depth to it and the quartet conveyed its prevailingly mournful sense in a meaningful way that emphasised an essential introspective desire and tendency towards a pronounced bittersweet balladry.