Dreamlife Of Debris Kit Downes
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Info for Dreamlife Of Debris
Dreamlife of Debris carries forward the story begun on Kit Downes’s Obsidian, extending and developing its processes and core ideas. But where Obsidian was (almost exclusively) a solo church organ album, part of Kit’s plan for Dreamlife was to put the organ in a broader context, and also to bring the piano into the larger compositional picture. Musicians in the project are primarily players with whom Downes has had long associations – saxophonist Tom Challenger, cellist Lucy Railton, drummer Seb Rochford – and there is also a first musical encounter with Norwegian guitarist Stian Westerhus. “I was interested to see how bringing in different people would change the direction of the recording.”
Dreamlife of Debris carries forward the story begun on Kit Downes’s Obsidian, extending and developing its processes and core ideas. But where Obsidian was (almost exclusively) a solo church organ album, part of Kit’s plan for Dreamlife was to put the organ in a broader context, and also to bring the piano into the larger compositional picture. Musicians in the project are primarily players with whom the British keyboardist has had long associations – saxophonist Tom Challenger, cellist Lucy Railton, drummer Seb Rochford – and there is also a first musical encounter with Norwegian guitarist Stian Westerhus.
The album is drawn from sessions recorded at two UK locations – the 13th century church of St John the Baptist in the village of Snape in the Suffolk countryside and St Paul’s Hall (a converted 19th century church) at Huddersfield University – where the musicians arrived to variously interact with Downes. The instrumentalists meet - as Downes puts it - “in a space with no singular character”, with a dream-like ambience being created through overdubs and collage. Although the players do not come together as an ensemble, their appearance as individuals in changing constellations influences the direction of the shape-shifting music triggered by Downes’s improvising, arranging and composing.
Saxophonist Tom Challenger, who had a cameo role on Obsidian, has more to contribute here, not only featured as one of the primary instrumental voices but also co-composing the concluding track, “Blackeye”. Downes and Challenger had maintained an organ/sax duo for eight years prior to Dreamlife. With the present project, Downes brings the piano also into the picture. The bright opening section of “Sculptor”, the first track here, rings the changes, with alert sparkling piano gradually dissolving into organ drones.
Lucy Railton, previously heard with Kit on the ECM debut of Thomas Strønen’s ensemble Time Is A Blind Guide (2015), has also played Downes’s compositions for piano and cello in their duo Tricko. As a lapsed cellist– he’d played the instrument himself as a child – Kit says he takes a vicarious pleasure in writing for Railton, as can be adduced from the elegant “Pinwheel”.
The association between Seb Rochford and Downes – revived here on “Blackeye” - goes back a decade to a period when Kit occasionally played with the rock-influenced jazz group Acoustic Ladyland. Rochford drummed for that ensemble; the bassist was Ruth Goller, who contributes the haunting composition “M7” to Dreamlife, which Kit plays on solo organ, underlining the connections to Obsidian.
Guitarist Stian Westerhus was integrated into the project for a final session of improvising in Huddersfield. A mysterious presence, his sounds bubble to the fore in the middle of the track called “Bodes.”
Kit Downes was an organ scholar at St Peter Mancroft in Norwich before going on to study piano, organ and composition at the Purcell School and the Royal Academy of Music. He recorded and toured widely with the band Empirical while also working with – among others Django Bates and Lee Konitz.
He has led and co-led a number of groups in the last decade, including the trios Troyka and Quiet Tiger, the Neon Quartet (with Stan Sulzmann), and the quintet Light From Old Stars. Current projects include, in addition to solo piano and pipe organ performances, collaborations with saxophonist Tom Challenger, cellist Lucy Railton, composer Shiva Feshareki and with the band Enemy with Petter Eldh and James Maddren. More details at his web site: www.kitdownes.com
The recipient of a number of prizes, including the BBC Jazz award and the British Jazz Award, Kit Downes was a made a Fellow of the Royal Academy in their Honours List of 2019. In the Down Beat International Critics Poll of 2019, he was voted # 1 Rising Star in both Piano and Keyboard categories.
Kit Downes, piano, organ
Tom Challenger, tenor saxophone
Stian Westerhus, guitar
Lucy Railton, cello
Sebastian Rochford, drums
writes, performs and teaches music, as well as playing the piano, Hammond Organ, church organ and various other keyboards in a variety of different ensembles.
Having originally been an organ scholar at St Peter Mancroft in Norwich, he then left to study piano, organ and composition at both the Purcell School of Music (where he now teaches), and later at the Royal Academy of Music (where he is now an Associate). Kit began performing with and composing for the UK band 'Empirical' – with whom he toured the US, Canada and Europe (playing at 'Newport Jazz Festival'), whilst also performing with Acoustic Ladyland, Micachu, Lee Kontiz and Django Bates.
Kit has received a Mercury Music Award nomination (in 2010), BBC Jazz Award, and a British Jazz Award for his own albums, and now tours with his own group ‘ENEMY’, Troyka, songwriter Josienne Clarke, Julian Arguelles' Quartet, Squarepusher, Thomas Stronen and Sylvain Darrifourcq – playing all over the world. In 2013 and 2015 he was nominated in the Rising Star category in Downbeat Magazine (US), and in 2014 won the 'Best Album Award' at the Parliamentary Jazz Awards. In 2015 Kit recorded his first album for ECM with Thomas Strønen’s ‘Time is a Blind Guide’. Kit now teaches piano and composition at the Purcell School of Music, and is also a patron of the ‘Musical Keys’ charity.
In 2013 he was asked by Django Bates to join his new ensemble ’The TDEs’ to play a new commission for both BBC Radio 3 and Cheltenham Jazz Festival (alongside his Troyka band mates). Later in 2014 he began touring with world famous clinic drummer Benny Greb - after playing the Meinl Drum Festival last year, he later went onto co-produce Benny’s latest album ‘Moving Parts’.
Also In 2014 he was asked by the Southbank Centre to write a new work for the opening festival of the recently refurbished Royal Festival Hall Organ. Then in 2015 he worked with Aldeburgh Music and Tom Challenger on a project called ‘Vyamanikal’ - a series of recordings documenting extended techniques on various local church organs - the project was later performed live at the Aldeburgh Festival. He was asked by the Cologne Philharmonie to write a new work for their organ in 2016, and has performed original commissions by Shiva Feshareki for the Union Chapel Organ. He has previously been commissioned by the National Youth Jazz Orchestra, the Wellcome Trust, Darmstadt Organ Festival 2015 (with drummer Jonas Burgwinkel), BBC Radio 2, BBC Jazz on 3, Jazzwise Magazine, Cheltenham Jazz Festival, London Contemporary Music Festival, London Jazz Festival and Aldeburgh Music. Upcoming commissions include a work for organ and 4 cellos for ‘Tre Voci’ to be performed in Oslo in 2016, as well as a new work for ‘Stavanger Organ Day 2016’, and an adaptation of ‘Vyamanikal’ for Manchester Jazz Festival 2016 and co- curating a music technology instillation at Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2016. He has also started songwriting with BBC Folk Award winner Josienne Clarke, and this year recorded on her new album for Rough Trade.
In 2015 he was asked to join Squarepusher’s live band ‘Shobaleader One’ - interpreting works from Squarepusher’s back catalogue for a live band.
Kit has also collaborated (on a range of acoustic and electronic instruments) with composers Matt Rogers and Mica Levi, electronic musician Leafcutter John, drummer Seb Rochford, filmmaker Ashley Pegg, artist Dave McKean, animator Lesley Barnes and geneticist Adam Rutherford (for the Wellcome Trust).