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Kit Downes

After studying at both the Purcell School of Music and the Royal Academy of Music - Kit now plays regularly with his own trio, Stan Sulzman, Troyka, The Golden Age of Steam, Sam Crockatt and Clark Tracey - and has played with Joe Locke, Gilad Atzmon, Empirical, Gerard Presencer, Seb Rochford, Ian Ballamy, Peter Ind, Gwyneth Herbert, John Warren and Eugene Skeef. He has also performed with leading British bands Fraud, Asaf Sirkis’ Inner Noise, Gilad Atzmon’s Orient House Ensemble, Acoustic Ladyland, Nostalgia 77, 2000 Black, Silhouette Brown and Dennis Rollins’ Badbone and Co. He has also worked with up and coming Composer / Songwriter Micachu, with whome he recorded in Abbey Road for Matthew Herbert, recorded for BBC Radio 6 and played at the Sonar Music Festival ’07 in Barcelona. Kit’s work with Empirical has taken him to The North Sea Jazz Festival, The JVC Festivals in New York, Montreal and Newport, and Vancouver Jazz Festival. Empirical won ‘Best Album of the Year 2007’ in Jazzwise and the EBU Award at the North Sea Festival. Kit won the BBC ‘Rising Star’ Award in 2008 and was nominated for a British Jazz Award in both 2008 and 2009, he also won one of 'Yamaha Jazz Scolarship' Awards in 2009.

Having been together since their first year at the Royal Academy of Music, the 'Kit Downes Trio' have been playing together since 2005. Their music concentrates on walking the fine line between improvisation and composition through an eclectic mix of influences. The band, featuring Calum Gourlay (Tommy Smith, Martin Speake, Tom Cawley) on bass and James Maddren (Marc Copland, Stan Sulzmann, Gwilym Simcock) on drums, has always been interested in making it's music accessible, whilst not sacrificing any of it's intellect - and doing so through new and original music. It has done this at the London Jazz Festival 2008 and 2009, Ronnie Scotts British Jazz Festival, BBC Radio 3 Live Broadcast, Glasgow Jazz Festival and Cheltenham Jazz Festival. Inspired by a wide range of influences, ranging from Bela Bartok to Keith Jarrett to Rufus Wainwright, the trio endeavors to both celebrate the classic piano trio tradition as well as develop it. They released their first album on Basho Records in November 2009.


Jazzwise Album of the Year 2008 - Empirical Mojo Jazz Album of the Year 2008 - Empirical EBU Jazz Award 2008 - Empirical Peter Whittingham Award 2008 - Empirical BBC Jazz Award 2008 - Rising Star Award British Jazz Awards Nominee 2008/09 - Rising Star Yamaha Jazz Award 2009 Top Ten Jazz Albums of 2009 (Jazzwise Magazine)


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Album Review

David Preston: Purple / Black Vol. One

Read "Purple / Black Vol. One" reviewed by Neil Duggan

Guitarist David Preston, one third of Preston-Glasgow-Lowe, has previously released two recordings with that trio, exhibiting an intense fusion-based style. He is often found sharing on-stage credentials with musicians such as Emma Rawicz and Melody Gardot. For Purple / Black Vol. One, his debut recording as leader, he has opted for a simpler, more distinctive soundscape which emphasises atmosphere and texture. Despite this change of style, Kevin Glasgow remains as electric bassist and they are joined by two ...

Album Review

Alex Hitchcock: Dream Band: Live in London

Read "Dream Band: Live in London" reviewed by Glenn Astarita

This is a bold expedition into the heart of progressive jazz, rendered across a vast canvas of three enthralling nights at the Vortex Jazz Club in London. This three-CD collection is not just a mere album, but a grand, audacious gathering of talents which blurs the line between a larger ensemble setup and a more intimate, modern band experience. Hitchcock's nifty approach to ensemble creation is at the core of this live recording. Rather than sticking ...

Album Review

Alex Hitchcock: Dream Band Live In London

Read "Dream Band Live In London" reviewed by Chris May

Viewed in retrospect, the abiding memory of 2023 is that it produced too many jazz albums prioritizing technical facility over emotional engagement. In London, New York and elsewhere (but not, so it seemed, in Chicago), musicians appeared to focus on virtuosity rather than feeling. Dullsville. For the record, some of those albums that did put soul on, at the least, an equal footing with cerebralism, are to be found in the Best Albums of 2023 round-up which can be read ...

Live Review

Enemy At Magy's Farm

Read "Enemy At Magy's Farm" reviewed by Ian Patterson

Enemy Magy's Farm Dromara, N. Ireland May 18, 2023 Kit Downes, Petter Eldh and James Maddren have played under the unusual moniker of Enemy since 2015, with their eponymous debut released on Dave Stapleton's Edition Records in 2018. The enemy in question may well be cliché and conformity because this is a trio that eschews most of the time-honored jazz-piano-trio tropes, choosing instead to follow its own logic system. As the audience ...

Album Review

Sebastian Rochford / Kit Downes: A Short Diary

Read "A Short Diary" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

London-based drummer Sebastian Rochford (aka, Seb) and pianist Kit Downes have a long working history but have recorded only once as a duo on the EP Live @ The Vortex (Loop Collective, 2012). They reunite on the poignant and cerebral A Short Diary. Rochford began his relationship with ECM Records as part of the Andy Sheppard-led Trio Libero (2012). He led a Mercury Prize-nominated experimental jazz band called Polar Bear and played with Sons of Kemet, David Byrne, Brian Eno, ...

Album Review

Deadeye: Deadeye

Read "Deadeye" reviewed by Bruce Lindsay

Many years ago, jazz combos simply called themselves after one of their number: the Dudley Moore Trio, the Miles Davis Quintet, and so on. The tradition still lingers, but even a well-established format such as the Hammond organ trio must sometimes follow the modern trend of adopting a name that is at once original and also opaque. Hence Deadeye, a trio consisting of Kit Downes on organ, Reinier Baas on guitar and Jonas Burgwinkel on drums. Why Deadeye? Who knows? ...

Radio & Podcasts

Kit Downes personal Brexit

Read "Kit Downes personal Brexit" reviewed by David Bixler

UK pianist Kit Downes has released a new recording Vermillion on ECM Records. In this episode of LINER NOTES Kit delves into how the pandemic and BLM affected the London jazz scene and how Brexit ultimately led him to elect to leave the UK. ...

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Jazz Day At The New Ross Piano Festival with Kit Downes and Scott Flanigan Set for September 20-24, 2023

Jazz Day At The New Ross Piano Festival with Kit Downes and Scott Flanigan Set for September 20-24, 2023

Source: Connie Tantrum

Five years ago the New Ross Piano Festival introduced jazz piano to what had been a purely classical piano festival. So far it has featured Enrico Pieranunzi, Lars Jansson, Gwilym Simcock, Vadim Neselovskyi, Phil Ware, Jim Doherty and Greg Felton. This year its Kit Downes and Scott Flanigan. About Kit Downes Kit Downes is a BBC Jazz Award winning, Mercury Music Award nominated, solo recording artist for ECM Records. He has performed all over the world playing piano, church organ ...



Mercury Prize-Nominated Pianist Kit Downes Interviewed at All About Jazz

Mercury Prize-Nominated Pianist Kit Downes Interviewed at All About Jazz

Source: All About Jazz

Kit Downes' career as a jazz musician has, indeed, taken off in a very short time. He's still in his mid-20s, but such is his talent and appetite for music that Downes has become one of the most sought-after keyboardist in Britain, and he's a key presence in a series of cutting-edge bands, with The Golden Age Of Steam, Troyka, Big Cat and his own Kit Downes Trio all springing readily to mind. While the intelligent but unassuming musician has ...

British pianist Kit Downes, formerly of Empirical, is beginning to get the kind of enthusiastic attention Gwilym Simcock did on his emergence a few years before. Downes is more of a choosy, patient storyteller, and if one of his distinctive original themes only requires a handful of notes and a lot of spaces, he leaves it like that.” - John Fordham, The Gaurdian ****

“Downes seems to have become everyone's favourite young pianist. These eight, slightly impressionistic originals are unpretentiously brilliant and full of subtle touches. Downes, bassist Calum Gourlay and drummer James Maddren are all players to watch.” - Dave Gelly, Observer

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Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

A Short Diary

ECM Records


Dream Band Live In...

Whirlwind Recordings


Dream Band: Live in...

Whirlwind Recordings


Purple / Black Vol....

Whirlwind Recordings



ECM Records



Dox Records


Skip James

From: Label Love Vol. 5: The Jazz...
By Kit Downes


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