ECM 2749 / 453 944

Sebastian Rochford (composition, drums); Kit Downes (piano)

Music has the power to heal and cleanse, and this is something that Sebastian Rochford has learned and been able to convey to others in this very personal musical diary. The lesson is shared two-fold on this tender and touching album that focusses on Rochford the composer and Rochford the drummer and interpreter of the written score.

The compositions were all written during period of great sadness for the drummer after the death of his father, the poet Gerard Rochford, in 2019. Dedicated to his father and his family, Rochford describes the compositions as a “short diary (of loss) and were written at his father’s piano.

The music was composed shortly after his father’s passing, and the melodies brought forth by Rochford’s contemplations at the piano reveal a touching sense of loss and vulnerability that is deeply affecting. In a gesture of complete trust, after composing the music Rochford gives the pieces over to pianist Kit Downes who brings to life the sometimes haunting and often beautiful compositions.

Rochford’s drumming takes a backseat as he communicates his inner most thoughts and feelings through the medium of his written scores. When he does play, he does so with great feeling and on the beautiful melody of ‘Silver Light’ Rochford’s drumming exhibits a sense of simplicity that says a lot.

The deep sense of loss is poignantly felt on the opening ‘The Tune Your Ears Will Never Hear’ and Rochford’s subtle drumming and cymbal splashes add to the solemn timbre and dynamic of the music. Not all is hidden beneath a dark veneer, and the value place on family by Rochford is celebrated with the floating melody line of ‘Love You Grampa’ that becomes ever more expansive in its delivery. One of ten children, the drummer again celebrates this part of being a family on ‘Ten Of Us’. The composition’s gentle beginning winds along a serene path at its own sedate pace as if the mind is wandering along a journey of memories, in turns happy, sad or lonely but always, as the music builds in intensity, with a feeling of purpose and belonging.

At the piano Kit Downes brings a quiet contemplation to the music that allows the compositions to gently unfold. His total understanding of Rochford’s intentions lifts the musical notation off the pages, imbuing each with feelings that are almost tangible. So much so that the drummer doesn’t play at all on three of the pieces, leaving Downes to convey the feelings inherent in the music with a delicate touch that borders on the gossamer light on ‘Our Time Is Still’ and Night Of Quiet’.

The closing piece, ‘Even Now I Think Of Her’ was written by Gerard Rochford, and as the drummer says was “a tune my dad had sung into his phone and sent me. I forwarded this to Kit. He listened, and then we started.” The music has been lovingly crafted and Downes touch at the keyboard and sense of dynamics is matched only by the drummer’s sensitive brushwork.

Recorded at the family home in Scotland and performed on his grandfather’s piano, Rochford describes the music as “a sonic memory of where I grew up” and in the process of capturing these memories has presented us with a very beautiful album that is tender and heart-warming.