Sebastian Rochford, Kit Downes, A Short Diary, ECM ****

Readers will be familiar with a few singles already from A Short Diary (referred to in the links below) - each concise, very quiet and contemplative and very complete in their own different ways. All 8 tracks now heard together share these qualities …

Published: 4 Jan 2023. Updated: 24 days.

Readers will be familiar with a few singles already from A Short Diary (referred to in the links below) - each concise, very quiet and contemplative and very complete in their own different ways. All 8 tracks now heard together share these qualities in common. And there is the intimacy of a duo and the stories of family, and a coming-to-terms with loss and the stages of life, that add layers and gravity to the whole effect.

Very simple and yet deep and mindful there is a clarity to the musical dialogues at every turn. Kit Downes as piano guide and interpreter of Rochford's compositions is less oblique than he can be - and certainly last year's wonderful Vermillion is a completely different aspect to his artistry - and it is fascinating the clarity that Rochford's musical lines delineate.

'Ten Of Us' - Rochford is one of 10 brothers and sisters - is the most significant of the pieces and the drummer is very good here and elsewhere at stealthily entering the musical scene after Downes clears and explains somehow melding serenity with a painterly Debussy like impressionism in some passages expert at creating not just the ultimate culminating note but contributing meaningfully to its if you like after-note meaning via cadential weight and sheer empathy.

SR

Dedicated to Rochford’s father Gerard and including a piece of his called 'Even Now I Think Of Her' that is already streaming the album was recorded at Rochford’s childhood home in Scotland and again sense of place is significant here given how often distance from things we hold dear can be such an obstacle even more psychological than physical. A clinical studio no matter how attuned to musicians' needs would never have, surely, produced such an atmosphere as you get here given the homespun sound of the piano's sonics and the gentle rustle and patterning of Rochford's drumming. Not an album where there is groove or any sense of bravura but like a grandfather clock or the stately creak and movement and sounds of old furniture and buildings a sense of solidity to it all. Above all it is very moving and represents a new phase in Rochford's already remarkable career. Out on 20 January

Sebastian Rochford, photo: Rosie Reed Gold

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Dave O'Higgins, Rob Luft, Liane Carroll, Jeremy Sassoon, Dennis Rollins & Alan Barnes - 2023 Southport Jazz Festival

Fact is a lot of UK jazz festivals dotted around are middle of the road meaning mainstream, swing, bebop, accessible funk and practically no ''free jazz'' (free as in avant). You might think that there is nothing wrong with that. Or conversely you …

Published: 4 Jan 2023. Updated: 24 days.

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Fact is a lot of UK jazz festivals dotted around are middle of the road meaning mainstream, swing, bebop, accessible funk and practically no ''free jazz'' (free as in avant). You might think that there is nothing wrong with that. Or conversely you might be horrified at the play-safe familiarity yet again and lack of breadth in the booking policy. Horses for courses. Five hours by road, some 220 miles, from London (50 miles and an hour and a half from Manchester) Southport is no different to the established formula but could hardly be accused of not booking top acts nevertheless. Square that circle hipsters - conundrum of the day.

The familiar and popular names appearing at the Merseyside seaside resort next month include Dave O'Higgins, Rob Luft, Dennis Rollins featuring in Wendy Kirkland's quartet playing a new take on Get Carter, Pete Long, Georgina Jackson, Liane Carroll, Jeremy Sassoon, the Alan Barnes octet. Dates are 3-5 February, organisers are Jez Murphy and Emma Holcroft. The festival venue is The Grand on Lord Street.

Rob Luft and Dave O'Higgins, main photo: Monika S. Jakubowska. Dennis Rollins, above, playing the INNtöne festival in Austria in 2019, photo: Wikimedia. Full festival details