With their first album, Golden, Kit Downes Trio made a splash. He received the laudatory comments and was selected for the price of mercury 2010 - not bad for three musicians who formed the trio during his studies at the Royal Academy of music. Now comes the harder part - their second album, very important. Should they tinker a winning formula, or leave it alone?
Tranquil Tiger, all 11 compositions are by Downes, a reasonable decision held the success of his plays on Golden. The trio remains unchanged - Downes on piano, Calum Gourley, double bass and James Maddren battery - but only three of these tracks feature the only trio. The remaining eight, they are joined by guests James Allsopp on tenor saxophone and bass clarinet more Adrien Dennefeld on cello.
The three trio tracks are Golden and are effectively used to punctuate the quintet parts. Their purpose is largely on Downes, who is always ready to take off on a commonly, soaring solo piano. Frizzi Pazzi and Brixen are bright, energetic, compositions with a good sense of melody, designed to help solo flights. Gourley and Maddren provide solid support and are all also prepared their own solo flourishes. In contrast, Fonias is a dark and more deliberate, putting greater emphasis on mood and melody.
There is more experimentation and variety on the trails with Allsopp and Dennefeld. The reeds and cello are not just added to the trio as guest soloists, but they are woven into the fabric of the music to provide original and inventive soundscapes. Thus, on the logger broodingly atmospheric, boreal, the Allsopp bass clarinet plays in the rhythmic section, giving it a disturbing sense of otherness. On tambourine animated, fine features solo piano and bass, saxophone and cello are subtly upon which rests the drone instruments, in the same direction.
With quiet Tiger, Kit Downes Trio built on the success of their first album and to explore new territories. On this showing their future explorations will make fascinating listening.