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...

Published: 21 Nov 2019. Updated: 2 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 Exterior of St John on Bethnal Green and Seb Rochford pictured backstage. Photos: marlbank.

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