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Kit Downes: Obsidian

Read "Obsidian" reviewed by Mark Sullivan

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 ...

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Kit Downes: Obsidian

Read "Obsidian" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

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 ...

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Josienne Clarke / Kit Downes: Such A Sky

Read "Such A Sky" reviewed by Bruce Lindsay

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 ...

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Kit Downes Tom Challenger: Vyamanikal

Read "Vyamanikal" reviewed by Duncan Heining

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. ...

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Kit Downes and Tom Challenger: Vyamanikal

Read "Vyamanikal" reviewed by Bruce Lindsay

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

Read "Kit Downes and Tom Challenger: Organ Crawling" reviewed by Duncan Heining

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."

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Kit Downes: Tricko

Read "Tricko" reviewed by Bruce Lindsay

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

Read "Kit Downes/Cormac O'Brien Band at McHughs" reviewed by Ian Patterson

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 ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Kit Downes: Light From Old Stars

Read "Kit Downes: Light From Old Stars" reviewed by Phil Barnes

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 ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Kit Downes and Tom Challenger: Wedding Music

Read "Wedding Music" reviewed by Bruce Lindsay

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 ...

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Kit Downes and Tom Challenger: Wedding Music

Read "Wedding Music" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

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 ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Kit Downes: Light From Old Stars

Read "Light From Old Stars" reviewed by Bruce Lindsay

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 ...


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