265

Kit Downes Trio: Quiet Tiger

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
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).

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


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read For the Love of You CD/LP/Track Review For the Love of You
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Recent Developments CD/LP/Track Review Recent Developments
by John Sharpe
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Triple Double CD/LP/Track Review Triple Double
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Agrima CD/LP/Track Review Agrima
by Jerome Wilson
Published: October 21, 2017
Read The Study of Touch CD/LP/Track Review The Study of Touch
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 20, 2017
Read Another North CD/LP/Track Review Another North
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2017
Read "This Is The Uplifting Part" CD/LP/Track Review This Is The Uplifting Part
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 22, 2017
Read "From the Heart" CD/LP/Track Review From the Heart
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: December 20, 2016
Read "Rock Pool Mirror" CD/LP/Track Review Rock Pool Mirror
by Barry O'Sullivan
Published: July 19, 2017
Read "Invisible Touch At Taktlos Zurich" CD/LP/Track Review Invisible Touch At Taktlos Zurich
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 7, 2017
Read "Duets" CD/LP/Track Review Duets
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 17, 2017
Read "Discussions" CD/LP/Track Review Discussions
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 20, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.