265

Kit Downes Trio: Quiet Tiger

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
Kit Downes Trio: Quiet Tiger
When it's time to follow up an album nominated for a major, mainstream award such as Britain's Mercury Prize, jazz artists face a conundrum. Having enjoyed a year or so of unprecedented publicity, and keen to keep it coming, the choice is between a carbon copy of the nominated album, designed to maintain the lucrative, but fragile connection with non-specialist critics and listeners, and a less commercially considered trajectory, going where the music dictates.

Led Bib's Bring Your Own (Cuneiform, 2011), the group's follow up to its Mercury-nominated Sensible Shoes (Cuneiform, 2009), trod a middle path, although one that steered close to the commercially savvy. Pianist Kit Downes, perhaps, has chosen a more adventurous direction with his delightful Quiet Tiger, the follow up to his Mercury-nominated Golden (Basho, 2009).

Downes has retained his core trio, with bassist Calum Gourlay and drummer James Maddren, but augments it, on most tracks, with cellist Adrien Dennefeld and tenor saxophonist/bass clarinetist James Allsopp, who is often overdubbed on both horns. Downes has also retained his finely judged balance between the lyrical and the abstract, and his gift for sapient grooves, but used the increased harmonic and textural possibilities opened up by the expanded lineup to take his music into a bigger, and at times darker, playground.

The addition of Allsopp, in particular, gives Downes' "trio" a weight and breadth of expression not unlike that heard on Neon Quartet's Catch Me (Edition, 2010), another highly recommended disc, on which Downes was featured alongside saxophonist Stan Sulzmann. Downes' focus on Quiet Tiger continues to be the core trio, but Allsopp's overdubbed voicings are sufficiently integral to the sound that , when the group takes to the road later in 2011, the reed player will be joined on stage by tenor saxophonist Josh Arceleo, the better to recreate them.

Even at its darkest, as on the sinister "Wooden Birds," Quiet Tiger hums with joie de vivre. Mostly, this is understated, but occasionally it breaks into an outright laugh: on the up-tempo and rollicking "Tambourine," Downes channels the bluesy chromaticism of Abdullah Ibrahim to great effect, returning to a similar stylistic ballpark on the slower, dreamier "Skip James." The lyrical "With A View," "In Brixen" and "Fonias" are simply gorgeous, while "The Wizards," Allsopp's showcase track, is surging and forceful, foregrounding the tenor saxophonist over big piano and even bigger drums.

As a member of Neon Quartet, Allsopp's Golden Age of Steam and Troyka, Downes gave British listeners several truckloads of pleasure in 2010. In 2011, with his trio—be it a three piece, a quintet or (live) a sextet—he's doing so again.

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).

Album information

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

Watch

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Read Blue Has A Range
Blue Has A Range
Steve Cardenas
Read BLIK
BLIK
Radio Bévort
Read Disturbed Nature
Disturbed Nature
Meerkat Parade
Read Chaos
Chaos
Julius Windisch Quartet
Read Chicago Waves
Chicago Waves
Carlos Niño / Miguel Atwood-Ferguson
Read Last Desert
Last Desert
Liberty Ellman
Read Catch Me If You Can
Catch Me If You Can
Jeff Hamilton Trio

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.