Kit Downes - Having studied at both the Purcell School of Music and the Royal Academy of Music (where he is now an Associate), Kit began playing and living in London age 18 - meeting and playing with peers such as Calum Gourlay, James Maddren (who make up his long-standing trio), James Allsopp and Tim Giles (who make up the 'Golden age of Steam') and Chris Montague and Josh Blackmore (who make up 'Troyka') - as well as elder more established musicians such as Stan Sulzmann (whom Kit still plays with in Stan's band 'Neon'), Seb Rochford and Clark Tracey - Kit began building on these musical relationships, performing throughout the UK, Europe and America with many of them (with both Julian Arguelles' group and 'Empirical' touring Canada and America - with Empirical playing at Newport Jazz Festival - the first UK group to do so for a long time). He also guested with some of the leading bands in the UK around this time - 'Fraud', Acoustic Ladyland', 'Micachu', 'Gilad Atzmon' as well as playing with some of his heroes - Lee Kontiz, Thomas Stronen, Django Bates (in a special commission for Jazz on 3), Iain Ballamy and Leafcutter John. Kit has toured with his own group throughout Germany, Austria, Norway and Italy, and similarly with Troyka, and also received a BBC Jazz Award for his work with Empirical, a British Jazz Award for his work with his own band and a Mercury Music Award nomination for his Trio album 'Golden'. Kit has released two more albums since then to good reviews, and now tours with his own Quintet, Troyka, Julian Arguelles' Quartet, Nostalgia 77, Sarah Gillespie, Thomas Stronen and Sylvain Darrifourq. In 2013 he was also nominated in the Rising Star category in Downbeat Magazine.
He enjoys the music of Django Bates, Robert Johnson and Bela Bartok, the films of Jim Jarmusch and Werner Herzog and the artwork of Alberto Giacometti and Barbara Hepworth.
At once both dark and detailed, colourfull and chaotic, Kit's Quintet is his new live project and features Calum Gourlay (bass), James Maddren (drums), Lucy Railton (cello) and James Allsopp (bass clarinet).
Kit Downes Quintet - At once both dark and detailed, colourful and chaotic, this Quintet is the new project from UK pianist and composer Kit Downes. It features the talents of Calum Gourlay (bass), James Maddren (drums), Lucy Railton (cello) and James Allsopp (bass clarinet). Featuring lopsided blues and speedy corners (taking their influences from blues greats such as Skip James and Robert Johnson to free jazz icons such as Paul Bley and Ornette Coleman) - the band have enjoyed many trips to Europe and beyond (such as Jazz Festivals in London, Coutances, Munsterland, Trondheim, Tel Aviv and Bremen Jazzahead). The have just released Kit's third album on Basho Records in April 2013 entitled 'Light from Old Stars' - following on from Kit's Mercury Award nominated album 'Golden' (Basho 2009) and the critically acclaimed 'Quiet Tiger' (Basho 2011).
Kit Downes Trio - Having been together since their first year at the Royal Academy of Music, the 'Kit Downes Trio' have been playing together since 2005. Their music walks a line between the improvised and the composed using an eclectic mix of influences. The band, featuring Calum Gourlay (Tommy Smith, Martin Speake, Tom Cawley) on bass and James Maddren (Marc Copland, Stan Sulzmann, Gwilym Simcock) on drums, has played at the London Jazz Festival 2008/09/10/11, Ronnie Scotts British Jazz Festival, BBC 2, BBC Radio 2 and 3 Live Broadcasts, Nattjazz Norway,Tel Aviv Jazz Festival, Coutances Jazz Festival, Cheltenham Jazz Festivals 2010/11 and have toured extensively throughout Germany and Austria. Their influences range from Bela Bartok to Bill Frisell to David Lynch, the trio celebrates the classic piano trio tradition as well as perform dangerous experiments on it. They released their first album on Basho Records ('Golden') in November 2009 which was subsequently (and surprisingly) nominated for the Mercury Music Award in 2010. Their second album 'Quiet Tiger' was released in March 2011, and was voted no. 4 in Jazzwise's Albums of the Year in 2011 as well as having extensive radio play on BBC Radio 2 and 3.
Brief list of commissions/other projects
Radio 3 Late Junction w/Leafcutter John
Cheltenham Jazz Festival Commission for Animation project with Lesley Barnes
Commonwealth Festival commission for ‘Pianorama’ 2010
Commonwealth Festival for Fluid Piano 2011
Britten Sinfonia and Future Projects 2011