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Kit Downes

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Biography of Kit Downes

Having studied at both the Purcell School of Music and the Royal Academy of Music (where he is now an Associate), Kit began playing and living in London age 18 - meeting and playing with peers such as Calum Gourlay, James Maddren (who make up his long-standing trio), James Allsopp and Tim Giles (who make up the 'Golden age of Steam') and Chris Montague and Josh Blackmore (who make up 'Troyka') - as well as elder more established musicians such as Stan Sulzmann (whom Kit still plays with in Stan's band 'Neon'), Seb Rochford and Clark Tracey - Kit began building on these musical relationships, performing throughout the UK, Europe and America with many of them (with both Julian Arguelles' group and 'Empirical' touring Canada and America - with Empirical playing at Newport Jazz Festival - the first UK group to do so for a long time). He also guested with some of the leading bands in the UK around this time - 'Fraud', Acoustic Ladyland', 'Micachu', 'Gilad Atzmon' as well as playing with some of his heroes - Lee Kontiz, Thomas Stronen, Django Bates (in a special commission for Jazz on 3), Iain Ballamy and Leafcutter John. Kit has toured with his own group throughout Germany, Austria, Norway and Italy, and similarly with Troyka, and also received a BBC Jazz Award for his work with Empirical, a British Jazz Award for his work with his own band and a Mercury Music Award nomination for his Trio album 'Golden'. Kit has released two more albums since then to good reviews, and now tours with his own Quintet, Troyka, Julian Arguelles' Quartet, Nostalgia 77, Sarah Gillespie, Thomas Stronen and Sylvain Darrifourq. In 2013 he was also nominated in the Rising Star category in Downbeat Magazine.
He enjoys the music of Django Bates, Robert Johnson and Bela Bartok, the films of Jim Jarmusch and Werner Herzog and the artwork of Alberto Giacometti and Barbara Hepworth.

At once both dark and detailed, colourfull and chaotic, Kit's Quintet is his new live project and features Calum Gourlay (bass), James Maddren (drums), Lucy Railton (cello) and James Allsopp (bass clarinet).

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