SEN3 Square Circle At The Oval


The Oval Tavern in Croydon might not be the first place you'd look for new jazz talent, but that's where emerging trio SEN3 were playing their latest gig. Drawing on tunes from their debut album released in February this year, SEN3 presented a heady mix of Thrust-era Herbie Hancock funk mixed with more contemporary vibes. Bassist Dan Gulino is a regular with chart successes such as Jamie Woon and Jessie Ware, but in this trio you could sense the craft of a session pro being let loose on more cutting-edge material. He has a near-telepathic connection with drummer Saleem Raman, and the two formed the backbone of the action, with Max O'Donnell's guitar free to float lines over the top or occasionally drop into the engine room and push things forward.

'Benson Dealer' began with luxurious slow neo-soul chords, before kicking into another gear and evoking late 1970s Headhunters. Raman laid straight 16ths across a shifting 7/4 structure in 'The Drop', which had echoes of Roller Trio. O'Donnell's natural ear for melody came into its own, with his long phrases contrasting against Gulino's busy counterpoint, culminating in a scintillating drum and bass groove. The set closed with a turbo-charged roast through 'Mr Clean', which would have had lesser players hanging on for dear life, before a similarly breakneck rendition of 'Actual Proof'. Gulino was fearless in flying into the central semi-quaver hook each time it came round, and Raman and O'Donnell were right there with him on every beat. One audience member passed out at the bar and had to be escorted off site – perhaps due to the potency of SEN3's grooves as much as the Friday night drinks.

– Jon Carvell

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