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Kit Downes/Cormac O'Brien Band at McHughs

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Kit Downes/Cormac O'Brien Band McHughs Belfast, N. Ireland September 13, 2014 Dating back to 1711, McHughs bar and restaurant is the oldest surviving building in jny: Belfast. As such, McHughs underground cellar, which played host to the Kit Downes/Cormac O'Brien Band seemed like an appropriate venue for a jazz gig. For like McHughs, jazz has survived--and for some practitioners it's changed little since the 1940s--while all around it has changed dramatically. Situated a stone's throw from Belfast's docks, McHughs has been absorbed by a new city landscape that includes state of the art ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Kit Downes: Light From Old Stars

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Arch collaborator Kit Downes has been near ubiquitous in UK jazz terms over the last few years. His trio collection Golden was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize (the nearest thing to a UK Grammys) in 2010 and considerably raised his public profile. Yet in interview Downes has commented upon the double edged sword that this exposure brought--happy with the increased bookings and CD sales, but less fond of the exposure to criticism from a less empathetic mainstream audience. Such was the impact of that criticism that Downes came close to walking away from music altogether, surely a tragedy for ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Kit Downes and Tom Challenger: Wedding Music

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Six improvised pieces of music, created over a three-day residency by two of the UK's most innovative and visionary young players and performed as church organ and saxophone duets. That's Wedding Music, by organist Kit Downes and saxophonist Tom Challenger. Six strange, atmospheric and starkly beautiful pieces of music. Wedding Music was recorded in St Paul's Church, Huddersfield, in Yorkshire--the home of a church organ which Downes describes as “exceptional." It's the culmination of a three-day residency at Huddersfield University during which, according to the organist, the duo explored “timbre, space, duration and sound." The exploration is a ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Kit Downes and Tom Challenger: Wedding Music

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The multiple-award winning pianist Kit Downes and the versatile saxophonist Tom Challenger have the distinction of conceiving one of the most unusual releases in years with Wedding Music. This alliance of these critically praised members of the UK's Loop Collective has produced a superb and unique collection of duets for church organ and tenor sax. While organ and saxophone duos are a rarity even in the realm of the B-3, Downes and Challenger take it to an altogether different level in this setting. In recording at Huddersfield University's St Paul's Church, the distinctive space becomes part of the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Kit Downes: Light From Old Stars

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Given pianist/composer Kit Downes' standing in the UK jazz scene it's rather surprising that Light From Old Stars is only the third album he's released under his own name. It's less surprising when his relative youth--he was still in his mid-20s when he recorded this album--and active membership in bands such as Troyka and Stan Sulzmann's Neon are added to the mix. All this musical activity might seem to leave little time for other considerations, but at least one non-musical interest is key to the development of Light From Old Stars.As the album's title suggests, the key is ...

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Kit Downes: Old Stars, New Blues

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Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Saturday 30th April 2011. The young British pianist and composer Kit Downes has travelled to this west of England town to première his latest composition, Animation Migration, at the Playhouse Theatre. It was an unusual event for a jazz festival. Downes' band played music inspired by the story of evolution and DNA alongside Lesley Barnes' similarly inspired and wonderfully colorful animations, followed by a question and answer session, where Downes and Barnes were joined by scientist and television presenter Adam Rutherford. The early evening event was a success and the audience demanded, and got, a reprise of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Kit Downes Trio: Quiet Tiger

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The Kit Downes Trio's first album, Golden (Basho Records, 2009), won a Mercury Music Prize nomination and put the group firmly at the forefront of British jazz. Quiet Tiger finds the Trio eager to move forward, redefining its sound. Not content to rest on the laurels garnered by Golden, pianist and composer Downes has augmented the band, expanding its musical palette with the unusual addition of tenor saxophone, bass clarinet and cello. At heart, though, this is still a trio, and bassist Calum Gourlay and drummer James Maddren remain central to the band's identity. Gourlay is an ...



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