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Kit Downes on the pipes

The Brit revisits the organ in the church of ECM...

By Abigail Church | Video of the Day | January 31, 2018

Kit Downes isn’t like any other church organist. Also a pianist, the Brit juggles with the pipes in a most original way. Even if Obsidian is released by ECM, it’s nonetheless hard to call it jazz. Incidentally, in the catalogue of the label from Munich, not everything is jazz… Over the last few years, Downes has been revisiting the church organ, exploring its sonic possibilities and its idiomatic singularities, through improvisations highlighting both the melodic aspect and the richness in tone of this instrument.

In November 2016, the producer Sun Chung followed Kit Downes in three English churches, two in Suffolk, one in London. You can find in these places very different acoustics for organs with very specific characters. It’s also a way for him to broaden his palette. Everything here is colourful, in the twists and turns of stateless but overpowering compositions and improvisations. Alone for the almost entirety of the album, Downes is joined for a track (Modern Gods) by tenor saxophonist Tom Challenger. It’s a superb discographic oddity.

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