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Sebastian Rochford & Kit Downes - A Short Diary (ECM)

26 January 2023

Scottish drummer Sebastian Rochford was inspired – nay, compelled – to write the music for A Short Diary after the loss of his father, poet Gerard Rochford. Composing the pieces in his childhood home after his dad’s passing, Rochford – a veteran skinsperson with ECM star Andy Sheppard, among others – recruited pianist/labelmate Kit Downes and producer/ECM owner Manfred Eicher to bring the pieces to fruition on record. They prove themselves to be sympathetic partners, treating the songs with sensitivity and respect – thankfully, as Rochford relies on them to convey his music’s emotional heft, with his own instrumentet sparsely used at best. The minimalist melodies of songs like “Our Time is Still” and “Night of Quiet” wander, not because they lack drive or purpose, but because they’re emulating grief and confusion as a family tries to figure out how to reconcile the loss they’ve suffered. The album ends with the classically inclined “Even Now I Think of Her,” a song composed by the elder Rochford, recorded on his phone, and sent to his son, who processed it through Downes’ fingers and his own low-key drum work. At thirty-six minutes, A Short Diary is indeed brief, but Rochford doesn’t need more time to get his ruminations on love, loss, and family across effectively.