THE CASIMIR CONNECTION: Tapping Into The Mysterious Force
At the tail end of 2017 a friend invited me to experience a brace of new compositions written by saxophonist Diane McLoughlin at the Old Church in Stoke Newington in North London – an intimate venue where only a few weeks earlier I’d enjoyed an mesmerising and uplifting set from Mali’s Trio Da Kali.
As it was a little bit off my normal beat I wasn’t sure what to expect. The session was promoted by Blow The Fuse – a long standing feminist/artist led collective, founded by guitarist Deirdre Cartwright and bassist Alison Rayner, that came in existence back in 1977 (think punk rock and Rock Against Racism!). I found the venue packed and already buzzing from the first set by Josefina Cupido’s Trio Cucara and was intrigued by The Casimir Connection’s drum-free line up of two violinists – Benet McLean and Pawel Grudzian (who also played keys), the elegant bass of Tim Fairhall and Dianne McLoughlin herself on saxes.
In the past, when asked to explain their name, McLoughlin, who has numerous ensembles, references the Casimir Effect, “a mysterious force in quantum physics that draws elements together” and she clearly sees that definition as an interesting metaphor for her own musical ensemble.
As the set unfolded the ambience of the Old Church provided the perfect setting for the music she has composed. As a listener you immediately sense that she’s lived with these works and that there exists a deep personal connection to each of them. Diane’s between composition introductions referenced her feelings and moods, along with events and stories from her childhood. Song titles like ‘Eisenstein’s Theory’, A Day In A Polish Village 1933′, ‘The Nurture Of Nature’ and ‘The Storm Inside’ conjure up images of what she intends to explore with her fellow musicians and her audience. There was intimacy and intensity, and especially the latter in a composition which was crafted to reflect her love of the Yorkshire moors… a journey that was surprisingly dark and quite menacing.
Above: ‘The Nurture Of Nature’ @ Lauderdale House 2017
There were mesmerising moments from all the musicians involved. Each was fully engaged. While classically trained Pawel Grudzien’s violin solo blew us all away, the sound of Benet McLean’s instrument consistently swept through the chapel and soared up to the ancient rafters above us alongside McLoughlin’s soprano or alto sax. Like those world renowned classical chamber music ensembles the quartet enjoyed exploring the space that exists between sound and silence. Alternatively quiet and brooding, serene and uplifting, The Casimir Connection showered us with echoes of influences from vintage Keith Jarrett to Poulenc, Bartok and Balkan folk music.
Those gathered were more than appreciative of what they’d experienced. Personally, along with performance I was quietly happy to know that Blow The Fuse continue to consistently work their corner. They continue to organise spaces where wonderful musicians, who often remain anonymous through pursuing a pragmatic livelihood of live and studio session work and remain largely unknown to a new generation of listeners (and players).
After sold out performances at Lauderdale House and last year’s London Jazz Festival, The Casimir Connection are today poised to perform in the depths of Hackney (E9) at Sutton House this coming Friday – July 6th. On the night, Kit Massey, a violinist with a history in the Santiago Philharmonic, a deep knowledge of the Karnatic violin traditions of Mysore and a founding member of the Heritage Orchestra replaces the excellent Benet McLean. Like the Old Church this beautiful Grade II listed Tudor manor house… yes, a Tudor Manor House in Lower Clapton / Homerton High Street!… with its excellent acoustics and its Steinway concert grand is an ideal setting for the group’s evocative and at times filmic musical journeys.
If you fancy it…. Doors open 7pm Performance 7.30pm.
Tickets £12 in advance £14 on door http://www.thecasimirconnection.com