The sublime Slow Eastbound Train, released in 2015, took Herskedal’s international profile to new heights. He toured extensively throughout Europe and Japan, culminating in a 26min commission from the BBC Concert Orchestra, performed at London Jazz Festival 2016.
A strong Arabic influence runs throughout The Roc, which has its roots in inspiring trips Herskedal made to Syria, Lebanon and Palestine. Themes of place and travelling are ever-present, as they were on Slow Eastbound Train. The titles of some of the compositions originate from the names of scales (Kurd, Bayat, Nahawand To Kurd) and rhythms (Thuraaya) used in them; others from Arabic sayings (There Are Three Things You Cannot Hide; Love, Smoke And A Man Riding On A Camel) and places that inspired the musicians (Hijaz Train Station). The title of the LP itself is a reference to the great bird of pan-Asian mythology.