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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Kit Downes: Obsidian

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British jazz pianist Kit Downes has been previously heard on ECM on drummer/composer Thomas Stronen's first Time Is A Blind Guide album (2015). But in his early years Downes sang in a cathedral choir and took organ lessons. He recently returned to the pipe organ in a series of experimental projects with saxophonist Tomas Challenger, who is represented here on one track: the rest are solo performances which Downes describes as structured improvisations. Intrigued by the creative possibilities of the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Kit Downes: Obsidian

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In 2013, pianist/organist Kit Downes, along with saxophonist Tomas Challenger, released Wedding Music (Loop Records) featuring Downes on the B-3 organ at Huddersfield University's St Paul's Church. That recording was moored in an ethereal setting that gave it an ambient, but stately quality and the duo reunited under similar conditions for Vyamanikal (Slip Imprint, 2016). In both cases the music focused more on the transparency of resonance rather than the structure of the pieces. Downes' ECM debut, Obsidian, returns him ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Josienne Clarke / Kit Downes: Such A Sky

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Sometimes life's great pleasures creep up almost unnoticed. One day they're not there, next day it seems like they've been around forever. Such A Sky is one such pleasure. A five-track EP, it's the debut release from BBC Folk Award winning singer Josienne Clarke and Mercury Prize nominated keyboardist Kit Downes. Clarke announced the release of Such A Sky on her Twitter feed with a lovely lack of hyperbole: “I've made a little EP with pianoer Kit Downes ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Tom Challenger and Kit Downes: Black Shuck

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The great--and often dark--writer, Neil Gaiman, in his recently published book of short stories titled Trigger Warning tells the tale of the mythical dog-beast--the black shuck--that is to be avoided at night because ..."if you see him--you die.." Well, that's fairly dark and it sets the tone for the third duo outing from Kit Downes and Tom Challenger. Black Shuck follows the pair's Wedding Music (Loop Records, 2014) and Vyamanical (Slip Imprint, 2016). Black Shuck has been issued ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Tom Challenger and Kit Downes: Black Shuck

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"Atmosphere" is one of those oft-used, hard to pin down, words that music writers are wont to distribute across their outpourings. Sometimes, it's used without qualification--an “atmospheric" piece, a song that has “atmosphere"--much in the way that people speak of having “blood pressure." So when a work such as Tom Challenger and Kit Downes' impressive Black Shuck appears, laden with atmosphere, some further discussion of the term is crucial--especially when the album's own press release refers to it as “dusty ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Kit Downes Tom Challenger: Vyamanikal

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This a beautiful and elegiac record but one that is not afraid to walk in the shadows. Other artists have utilised the combination of saxophone and organ--John Surman and Howard Moody's Rain on the Window and Jan Garbarek and Kjell Johnsen's Aftenland spring to mind. However, Kit Downes and Tom Challenger's Vyamanikal is quite different in its approach. This duo of church organ and tenor saxophone focuses less on form and more on the purity of sounds themselves. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Kit Downes and Tom Challenger: Vyamanikal

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Five churches, five church organs and a saxophone or two: the instrumentation to be found on Vyamanikal, the British duo of Kit Downes and Tom Challenger's follow-up to Wedding Music (Loop Collective, 2013). Downes (ENEMY, Tricko, Troyka) and Challenger (Brass Mask, Ma, Dice Factory) recorded Vyamanikal during a 2015 residency at Aldeburgh Music. The venue was established by composer Benjamin Britten in the 1960s in a disused Victorian maltings in the Suffolk village of Snape and is now ...

JAZZIN' AROUND EUROPE

Kit Downes and Tom Challenger: Organ Crawling

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Pianist-organist Kit Downes is one of the brightest and most articulate talents to emerge from the British and European scenes in recent times. His refusal to be pinned down to any specific career path or musical trajectory is to his credit but even more so is his ability to produce authentic music without compromise across style, genre or approach. Downes has that quality to his work that says, “Never mind the situation, this is me. This is my music."

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Kit Downes: Tricko

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Tricko pairs composer and keyboard player Kit Downes with cellist Lucy Railton on a set of Downes' compositions. It's a delightful pairing, creating distinctive tunes inspired by minimalism, mutability and a few of the mysteries of the world. Downes and Railton met when they were studying at London's Royal Academy Of Music. Downes has proven to be one of the contemporary music scene's most innovative and adaptable players, receiving a Mercury Music Prize nomination in 2010 for his ...

LIVE REVIEWS

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 ...