The latest album from keyboard player Kit Downes expands further on his largely solo church organ album Obsidian. Dreamlife of Debris develops the creativity of the first and brings new depths with the addition of both piano and a range of other instrumental voices. The end result is dark, wistful and inspiring.
Alongside Downes’s organ and piano are added the sax of Tom Challenger, cello from Lucy Railton, drums of Seb Rochford, plus the guitar of Norway’s Stian Westerhus. But this is more of a collage than a collaboration, with all the musicians contributing individually, rather than collectively.
This is almost the opposite of a live album, despite the locations chosen for the recordings. The first is the 13th century Church of St John the Baptist in Snape, while the second is St Paul’s Hall, a converted 19th century church at Huddersfield University. The layers of each instrument interact separately with organ and piano, yet come together as a musical whole.
Listen to a preview of the album here:
The opening track - Sculptor - begins with a dialogue between Challenger’s sax and Downes’s piano that takes the composer over to finish on organ. In Circinus, the second track, the sax hovers around the lines of the organ, with the two sometimes mimicking each other in a dreamlike wandering. The musical temperature changes with Pinwheel, the next track, featuring cellist Railton in another partnership with the piano.
Seemingly uncollaborative, this album is nevertheless a cross-section of the creativity of a small and talented group. Composer Downes steps out of that role in M7, a track created by bassist Ruth Goller, while sharing it with Challenger in co-composing the final track of this alluring album - Blackeye.
There is a reason why Downes has garnered prizes from across the jazz world - most recently in the Down Beat International Critics Poll of 2019, voted #1 Rising Star in both Piano and Keyboard categories - and Dreamland of Debris confirms his stellar contribution to today’s world of jazz.