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Friday, March 02, 2018

CD Review: Kit Downes - Obsidian

Kit Downes (pipe organs) + Tom Challenger (tenor saxophone on track 5)
(Review by Russell)
An album of pipe organs! Improvising jazz pianist Kit Downes also plays the church pipe organ, or rather he did. As a child, he sang in a cathedral choir in Norwich and took lessons with the organist showing an aptitude for improvising. He has maintained an interest in the organ, occasionally visiting churches to play the instrument. In November 2016, Downes recorded this CD on three organs in three churches.

The instruments, of varying dimensions, have their individual characteristics and Downes sought to highlight the differences in his compositions written for the three site-specific organs. In the album’s liner notes Downes explains that at a lower volume the instruments’ subtleties are readily revealed, as opposed to their capacity at full-throttle to be utterly overwhelming. Ten tracks; eight of them are Downes’ compositions, one is co-written with his father Paul Downes and one is an arrangement of  Black is the Colour. The latter is markedly ‘traditional’ compared to Downes’ compositions on which he improvises freely. The CD (recorded at St John’s in Snape, Suffolk, St Edmund’s in Bromeswell, Suffolk, and Union Chapel, London) was recorded close up to the instruments ‘so you can hear all the mechanical noises…’


Saxophonist Tom Challenger is heard on one track – Modern Gods – which, on first hearing, could be Downes, but is most definitely tenor saxophone. This ECM release, as one has come to expect, is beautifully recorded and the CD’s artwork is typically that of the German label.
Russell. 
Obsidian by Kit Downes is released on ECM (ECM 2559 5782651).     

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