Flowing, elegant grooves; singing melodies; group improvisations that shifted from a whisper to exuberant, driving cascades of notes and a sense that this band breath as one. Kit Downes has been winning awards in other bands and in his own right for a couple of years now, deservedly so, but this was unquestionably a bravura collective effort albeit playing principally the pianist’s compositions. Drummer James Maddren provided one quintessential listening moment when, as he was clattering out a wonky rhythm providing a beautiful foil for the accents from the piano, he suddenly froze, played nothing and then struck the cymbal at the perfect moment to join the piano. His drum solo consisting mainly of him gripping the ride with one hand whilst flailing at it with a brush in the other was another high light. Callum Gourlay’s bass insinuated its way into every tune, pitch perfect and singing as well as driving the music forward.
This music is firmly located in a particular contemporary territory. It was no accident that somehow I was moved to play Brad Mehldau’s Art of the Trio Vol 3, aptly entitled Songs, the next day. To my ears both Downes’s trio and Curios (led by Tom Cawley to whom the bands first track (Tom’s Tune)was dedicated) are exploring territory first mapped out by Mehldau’s in the mid 90s and bringing their own particluar sound and voice to it. Tom’s Tune and the opener on Curios’ album (Little Sharks and Baby Dolphins) seem almost deliberately to reference the first track on Songs (Song-Song).
I can certainly see what all the fuss is about with this band, I left with a spring my step and song in my heart! My other pairs of ears’ taste is slightly different – she prefers a few more swung quavers I fancy. For me – I loved it.