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Kit Downes|Vermillion

Vermillion

Kit Downes

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Vermillion is the third ECM leader date by classically trained British pianist and organist Kit Downes. He began his tenure with the label on 2018's Obsidian, a collection of mostly solo pieces recorded in churches on pipe organs. His follow-up, 2019's Dreamlife of Debris, showcased him playing piano and organ in a quintet setting that included guitarist Stian Westerhus, drummer Seb Rochford, cellist Lucy Railton, and saxophonist Tom Challenger. Vermillion reveals Downes in yet another setting, a jazz piano trio with Swedish bassist Petter Eldh and English drummer James Maddren. This group also recorded Enemy together for Edition in 2018. The intention of these sessions was to explore different ways of capturing the essence of chamber music in a jazz setting. That said, the album doesn't sound like that at all. Instead, it is a captivating exercise in reinvention for a 21st century jazz piano trio. Downes is an intricate player who instinctively grasps aesthetic and technical difficulties in advanced harmonic systems and rhythmic development, but he's always made them accessible without reduction. He couldn't have asked for a more intuitive rhythm section to aid him. There are five tunes each from Downes and Eldh, as well as a fragmental abstract of Jimi Hendrix's "Castles Made of Sand." As performed, these tunes suggest a sequence of unrelated yet highly accessible instrumental miniatures -- almost singles, really. That said, they are so centered on movement that familiar senses of gravity and return are somewhat displaced. Downes' "Minus Monks" offers a sparse opening, before the trio responds with elegant consonance, juxtaposing post-bop and Latin-tinged modes. "Sister, Sister" emerges from a folk-like melody unsettled by kinetic brushwork before expanding to expressionist modern jazz aided by Eldh's soulful bass playing. "Seceda" is a graceful waltz that supplies a deep groove recalling the '90s work of Abdullah Ibrahim. The bassist's "Sandilands" is built on shimmering harmonics in ever-changing meters. Downes' playing simultaneously recalls both his mentor John Taylor's and Chick Corea's. "Waders" stands in sharp contrast. Its rhythmic solidity is guided by Eldh (the composer) in criss-crossing blues, post-bop pointillism, and modal swing. His "Class Fails" commences with a two-minute spectral drum solo before opening onto a classical field in Downes' solo before the rhythm section gently coaxes him into Evans-esque melodic improvisation that also flirts with 19th century liturgical music. The Hendrix cover is so liberal it may take those familiar with it a few moments to discern its melodic center. Downes extrapolates on the chord voicings with crystalline harmonic circularity. The pianist joins them during the final moments in rhythmic conversation. Vermillion is seamless. There are no pyrotechnics, only intimate communication that revels in its organic approach to harmonic invention, dynamic use of space, and deft rhythmic interplay.
© Thom Jurek /TiVo

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Vermillion

Kit Downes

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1
Minus Monks
00:03:56

Manfred Eicher, Producer - James Maddren, Drums, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Kit Downes, Composer, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Petter Eldh, Double Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Stefano Amerio, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2021 ECM Records GmbH

2
Sister, Sister
00:04:21

Manfred Eicher, Producer - James Maddren, Drums, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Kit Downes, Composer, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Petter Eldh, Double Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Stefano Amerio, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2021 ECM Records GmbH

3
Seceda
00:04:42

Manfred Eicher, Producer - James Maddren, Drums, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Kit Downes, Composer, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Petter Eldh, Double Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Stefano Amerio, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2021 ECM Records GmbH

4
Plus Puls
00:04:00

Manfred Eicher, Producer - James Maddren, Drums, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Kit Downes, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Petter Eldh, Composer, Double Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Stefano Amerio, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2021 ECM Records GmbH

5
Rolling Thunder
00:02:32

Manfred Eicher, Producer - James Maddren, Drums, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Kit Downes, Composer, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Petter Eldh, Double Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Stefano Amerio, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2021 ECM Records GmbH

6
Sandilands
00:04:35

Manfred Eicher, Producer - James Maddren, Drums, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Kit Downes, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Petter Eldh, Composer, Double Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Stefano Amerio, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2021 ECM Records GmbH

7
Waders
00:03:34

Manfred Eicher, Producer - James Maddren, Drums, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Kit Downes, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Petter Eldh, Composer, Double Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Stefano Amerio, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2021 ECM Records GmbH

8
Class Fails
00:06:08

Manfred Eicher, Producer - James Maddren, Drums, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Kit Downes, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Petter Eldh, Composer, Double Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Stefano Amerio, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2021 ECM Records GmbH

9
Bobbl’s Song
00:03:19

Manfred Eicher, Producer - James Maddren, Drums, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Kit Downes, Composer, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Petter Eldh, Double Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Stefano Amerio, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2021 ECM Records GmbH

10
Math Amager
00:03:29

Manfred Eicher, Producer - James Maddren, Drums, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Kit Downes, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Petter Eldh, Composer, Double Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Stefano Amerio, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2021 ECM Records GmbH

11
Castles Made of Sand
00:04:53

Jimi Hendrix, Composer - Manfred Eicher, Producer - James Maddren, Drums, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Kit Downes, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Petter Eldh, Double Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Stefano Amerio, Mixer, Mastering Engineer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2021 ECM Records GmbH

Album Description

Vermillion is the third ECM leader date by classically trained British pianist and organist Kit Downes. He began his tenure with the label on 2018's Obsidian, a collection of mostly solo pieces recorded in churches on pipe organs. His follow-up, 2019's Dreamlife of Debris, showcased him playing piano and organ in a quintet setting that included guitarist Stian Westerhus, drummer Seb Rochford, cellist Lucy Railton, and saxophonist Tom Challenger. Vermillion reveals Downes in yet another setting, a jazz piano trio with Swedish bassist Petter Eldh and English drummer James Maddren. This group also recorded Enemy together for Edition in 2018. The intention of these sessions was to explore different ways of capturing the essence of chamber music in a jazz setting. That said, the album doesn't sound like that at all. Instead, it is a captivating exercise in reinvention for a 21st century jazz piano trio. Downes is an intricate player who instinctively grasps aesthetic and technical difficulties in advanced harmonic systems and rhythmic development, but he's always made them accessible without reduction. He couldn't have asked for a more intuitive rhythm section to aid him. There are five tunes each from Downes and Eldh, as well as a fragmental abstract of Jimi Hendrix's "Castles Made of Sand." As performed, these tunes suggest a sequence of unrelated yet highly accessible instrumental miniatures -- almost singles, really. That said, they are so centered on movement that familiar senses of gravity and return are somewhat displaced. Downes' "Minus Monks" offers a sparse opening, before the trio responds with elegant consonance, juxtaposing post-bop and Latin-tinged modes. "Sister, Sister" emerges from a folk-like melody unsettled by kinetic brushwork before expanding to expressionist modern jazz aided by Eldh's soulful bass playing. "Seceda" is a graceful waltz that supplies a deep groove recalling the '90s work of Abdullah Ibrahim. The bassist's "Sandilands" is built on shimmering harmonics in ever-changing meters. Downes' playing simultaneously recalls both his mentor John Taylor's and Chick Corea's. "Waders" stands in sharp contrast. Its rhythmic solidity is guided by Eldh (the composer) in criss-crossing blues, post-bop pointillism, and modal swing. His "Class Fails" commences with a two-minute spectral drum solo before opening onto a classical field in Downes' solo before the rhythm section gently coaxes him into Evans-esque melodic improvisation that also flirts with 19th century liturgical music. The Hendrix cover is so liberal it may take those familiar with it a few moments to discern its melodic center. Downes extrapolates on the chord voicings with crystalline harmonic circularity. The pianist joins them during the final moments in rhythmic conversation. Vermillion is seamless. There are no pyrotechnics, only intimate communication that revels in its organic approach to harmonic invention, dynamic use of space, and deft rhythmic interplay.
© Thom Jurek /TiVo

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