All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

103

Kit Downes Trio: Quiet Tiger

Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to view read count
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 undemonstrative but focused player who seems to radiate calmness. Maddren is one of the most distinctive drummers around, his inventive playfulness ensuring that his percussion constantly surprises. Downes' playing is considered, thoughtful and often exquisite; his writing equally inventive and intriguing.

The new instrumentation is provided by reed player James Allsopp—leader of The Golden Age Of Steam, in which Downes plays Hammond organ and Wurlitzer—and cellist Adrien Dennefeld. They appear on all but three of the tunes, and their impact is undeniably effective, lending an air of mystery and suspense to the music. Dennefeld, like Gourlay, tends to shun the musical limelight; his presence is not always obvious, but his understated performances are incisive. Allsopp is much more upfront, often overdubbing his two instruments to add depth to his sound.

On "Attached," Allsopp and Dennefeld create a somber, melancholy atmosphere through the use of long, wave-like phrases. "Wooden Birds" is a curious, dreamlike tune featuring Downes' tinkling, bright, piano patterns. "Skip James" is languid, reflective and sad—the title suggesting a tribute to the great bluesman—but it could well be Downes' instruction to Maddren, and features some rolling piano phrases and a plaintive bass solo. "The Wizards" opens with a duet between Allsopp, on tenor sax, and Maddren, with Allsopp keeping things fairly simple as the drummer jumps and swings across the kit.

Of the trio numbers "In Brixen" is the most beautiful: a lyrical and flowing tune underpinned by Gourlay's lovely bass groove. On "Fonias" Downes' piano playing is spacious and delicate, the most classical-sounding and romantic playing on the album. "Frizzi Pazzi" finds Downes firmly in Thelonious Monk territory, with phrases reminiscent of Monk's "Suburban Eyes."

The cover of Quiet Tiger is absolutely gorgeous, the work of Scottish artist Lesley Barnes, who is collaborating with the band on an animation project—another indication of Downes' ambition and exploratory energy. Golden was an emphatic debut, and Quiet Tiger takes things onward and upward: refusing to simply recreate the debut's successful formula, Downes and his fellow musicians are moving in fascinating and engaging new directions.

Track Listing: Boreal; Tambourine; With A View; Frizzi Pazzi; Attached; In Brixen; Wooden Birds; Fonias; The Wizards; Skip James; Quiet Tiger.

Personnel: Kit Downes: piano; Calum Gourlay: double bass; James Maddren: drums; James Allsopp: tenor saxophone and bass clarinet (1-3, 5, 7, 9-11); Adrien Dennefeld: cello (1-3, 5, 7, 9-11).

Title: Quiet Tiger | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Basho Records

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Skip James

Skip James

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

CD/LP/Track Review
Jazzin' Around Europe
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Obsidian

Obsidian

ECM Records
2018

buy
Such A Sky

Such A Sky

Self Produced
2017

buy
Vyamanikal

Vyamanikal

Slip Imprint
2016

buy
Tricko

Tricko

Coup Perdu
2015

buy
Kit Downes: Light From Old Stars

Kit Downes: Light...

Basho Records
2014

buy
Wedding Music

Wedding Music

Loop Records
2013

buy

Related Articles

Read 1538 CD/LP/Track Review
1538
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: June 19, 2018
Read Love Wins CD/LP/Track Review
Love Wins
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 19, 2018
Read 1538 CD/LP/Track Review
1538
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 19, 2018
Read Mutt Slang CD/LP/Track Review
Mutt Slang
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 19, 2018
Read Prisma CD/LP/Track Review
Prisma
by Ian Patterson
Published: June 19, 2018
Read Jazz Tango CD/LP/Track Review
Jazz Tango
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 18, 2018
Read "Where Fortune Smiles" CD/LP/Track Review Where Fortune Smiles
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 13, 2017
Read "Crazy Lights Shining" CD/LP/Track Review Crazy Lights Shining
by Gareth Thompson
Published: June 2, 2018
Read "Translator's Note" CD/LP/Track Review Translator's Note
by Karl Ackermann
Published: August 3, 2017
Read "The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1" CD/LP/Track Review The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1
by Jim Olin
Published: October 17, 2017
Read "On a Distant Shore" CD/LP/Track Review On a Distant Shore
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read "Turbulence" CD/LP/Track Review Turbulence
by Tyran Grillo
Published: March 17, 2018