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Light From Old Stars

Artist: Kit Downes

Date of Release: 22/04/2013

Catalogue no: SRCD 42-2

Label: Basho

Price: £10

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Track Listing

No

 

Title

Duration

1

 

Wander and Colossus

7.13

2

 

Bleydays

6.27

3

 

Outlawed

6.57

4

 

What’s The Rumpus

3.44

5

 

Two Ones

4.49

6

 

Falling Dancing

0.46

7

 

Owls

5.15

8

 

The Mad Wren

6.10

9

 

Jan Johansson

6.44

 

 

 

 



HEAR KIT'S BAND LIVE ON THE

JAMIE CULLUM SHOW



Mercury Prize nominated pianist Kit Downes first met astrobiologist Daniella Scalice at the Cheltenham Science Festival. Inspired by ideas of scale, Downes became intrigued by the notion that the stars we see are often dead, and that stargazing is ‘a form of time travel without moving’. The celestial scale might seem incomprehensible to us, but there are some routes towards understanding it. These thoughts provided a conceptual framework for the music on Light From Old Stars, which explores the realms of the magical and fantastic through very grounded and earthy ideas. These are all complete, live takes without the use of editing.

Light From Old Stars is Downes’ first album to be recorded entirely with the quintet line-up, developing and enhancing the approach to ensemble arrangements initiated on Quiet Tiger. The compositions collected here are very specific orders and designs that also have chaos built in to them. They also link Downes’ disparate musical interests from the early American blues masters through to European classical music via specific references to pianists Paul Bley and Jan Johansson. The raw, urgent quality of blues from guitarists such as Skip James, Blind Willie McTell and Howlin’ Wolf is a fundamental
inspiration here, not only on the dusty shuffle of Outlawed but also in the more veiled blues ideas that can be found throughout the album.


The compositions on Light From Old Stars are united through inspirations that are escapist, but which also reflect reality. What’s The Rumpus gets its title from dialogue in the Coen Brothers film Miller’s Crossing, whilst Owls is inspired by David Lynch’s bizarre and surreal drama Twin Peaks. The idea for the brief interlude Falling Dancing came after watching a ballet performance.

To emphasise these links between various art forms, Downes has been collaborating extensively with artist Lesley Barnes. As well as providing the artwork to accompany the album, Barnes has made a number of video animations to be screened at Downes’ performance.

 

Reviews

 

23/12/2013 BBC Radio 3 Jazz on 3

In Top ten CDs of 2013

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26/05/2013 Peter Bacon, The Jazz Breakfast

While Downes’s own solos have their characteristic delights of harmonic and melodic inventiveness, it is his writing and arranging that really are the highlights of this album. With these four other musicians he seems to have found a whole chamber orchestra with which to explore his musical vision and take it out into the galaxies.
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30/04/2013 Chris Ingham, MOJO Magazine

Jazz Album of the Month, 4 stars:‘...perhaps the most admired and creative musician of his generation....Lucy Railton’s Cello and James Allsopp’s reeds bring unfeasible depth to this magnificent ensemble.’

 

28/04/2013 Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph, 4 stars

‘It’s precisely the blend of the ethereal and the earthy that makes this such a fascinating album.’

 

26/04/2013 Dave Sumner, Bird Is The Worm

'His 2013 release Light From Old Stars stakes out its own path, diverging from that of past recordings. And yet, despite that, eclipsing new paths are familiar sounds, reminiscent of music from before but molded of something new. This is what happens when a musician finds their voice and goes about the hard work of developing it.'
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25/04/2013 Peter Quinn, The Arts Desk

Album of the Day: 'In this finely drawn nine-track collection, the pianist's multifarious gifts as a writer come strongly to the fore...It reveals an ear-catching artistry now in full bloom.'

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24/04/2013 Marlbank 4 stars

'Combining a variety of elements from chamber jazz signifiers in the arranging style through to free improv... this is Kit Downes’ best album to date.'

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22/04/2013 Andy Robson, Jazzwise 4 stars

'There's no doubting that with "Light From Old Stars" his stellar talent is maturing.'

 

20/04/2013 John Bungey, The Times 4 stars

'He has expanded his line-up with a reeds player and cellist adding an array of new colours on what’s as engaging a British jazz album as you’ll hear this year.'
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19/04/2013 John Fordham, The Guardian 4 stars

'The closing Jan Johansson beautifully combines eerily harmonised Nordic ambiance and the album's infinite-space theme.'
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15/04/2013 Bruce Lindsay, All about jazz

'The old stars of the cosmos and the old stars of the blues may seem to have little in common—but both of them have inspired the creation of a lovely, rewarding, album. Light From Old Stars is Downes' most accessible and imaginative album to date, a worthy addition to an already impressive body of work.’
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12/04/2013 Robert Shore, UK Metro

'...the spirit of Howlin' Wolf haunts these playfully bluesy avant garde grooves'.

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10/04/2013 Chris Parker, London Jazz

'Light from Old Stars is at once immediately accessible and richly rewarding, revealing hidden felicities each time it is listened to.'
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