Kit Downes

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Kit Downes is a British jazz pianist. Downes plays regularly with his own trio, Stan Sulzmann, Troyka, The Golden Age of Steam, Sam Crockatt and Clark Tracey - and has played with Joe Locke, Gilad Atzmon, Empirical, Gerard Presencer, Seb Rochford, Iain Ballamy, Sarah Gillespie, Peter Ind, Gwyneth Herbert, John Warren and Eugene Skeef. He has also performed with British bands Fraud, Asaf Sirkis' Inner Noise, Gilad Atzmon's Orient House Ensemble, Acoustic Ladyland, Nostalgia 77, 2000 Black, Silhouette Brown and Dennis Rollins' Badbone and Co.


Downes attended Norwich School, the Purcell School and the Royal Academy of Music.[1][2]

He was a member of Empirical, appearing on their debut album, Empirical (Destin-e Records). The album, produced by Courtney Pine, was the Jazzwise album of the year and the Mojo album of the year in 2007. Work with Empirical included The North Sea Jazz Festival, The JVC Festivals in New York, Montreal and Newport, and Vancouver Jazz Festival. Empirical also won the EBU Award at the North Sea Festival.

Downes left Empirical and went on to form prog jazz group Troyka, as well as continuing to work with the Kit Downes Trio. Troyka has Downes on keys, Chris Montague on guitar and Joshua Blackmore on drums. In January 2015 the band released the album Ornithophobia, described by John Fordham of The Guardian as "the trio at their most unbuttoned and sometimes their most lyrical. They stir together prog-rock clamours, thrash-jazz, blues, minimalism and a cauldron of other volatile ingredients."[3]

The Trio, including bassist Calum Gourlay and drummer James Maddren, released their debut album Golden on Basho Records in November 2009, which was one of the 12 albums shortlisted for the 2010 Mercury Music Prize.[4] In June 2010, the Trio recorded a new album, for release on Basho Records in March 2011, with guests cellist Adrien Dennefeld and saxophonist/bass clarinetist James Allsopp.[5]

The Trio have been together since their first year at the Royal Academy of Music, in 2005. The band has played at the London Jazz Festival 2008 and 2009, Ronnie Scott's British Jazz Festival, BBC Radio 3 Live Broadcast, Glasgow Jazz Festival and Cheltenham Jazz Festival. The Trio are inspired by a wide range of influences, ranging from Béla Bartók to Keith Jarrett to Rufus Wainwright.

Downes has also worked with composer Micachu, with whom he recorded in Abbey Road for Matthew Herbert, recorded for BBC Radio 6 and played at the Sonar Music Festival '07 in Barcelona. He is also a member of the F-IRE Collective, an initiative set up by Barak Schmool, which is a musician-led collective to encourage shared learning and sharing of resources.


  • Winner of BBC Jazz Award 2008: Rising Star
  • Yamaha Jazz Scholarship Award 2009


An asterisk (*) after the year indicates that it is the year of release.

As leader/co-leader[edit]

Year recorded Title Label Notes
2008–09 Troyka Edition As Troyka. Trio, with Chris Montague (guitar), Joshua Blackmore (drums)
2009* Homely Impure Duo. With Tom Cawley (piano)
2009* Golden Basho Trio. With Calum Gourlay (bass), James Maddren (drums)
2010 Catch Me Edition As Neon Quartet. Quartet. With Stan Sulzmann (sax), Jim Hart (vibes, marimba), Tim Giles (drums)
2011* Quiet Tiger Basho Trio. With Calum Gourlay (bass), James Maddren (drums). Some tracks quintet, with Adrien Dennefeld (cello), James Allsopp (tenor sax, bass clarinet) added
2012* Subjekt Edition As Neon Quartet. Quartet. With Stan Sulzmann (sax), Jim Hart (vibes), Tim Giles (drums)
2012* Moxxy Edition As Troyka. Trio, with Chris Montague (guitar), Joshua Blackmore (drums)
2013* Light from Old Stars Basho Quintet. With James Allsopp (clarinet, bass clarinet, tenor sax), Lucy Railton (cello), Calum Gourlay (bass), James Maddren (drums)
2013* Wedding March Loop Duo. With Tom Challenger (tenor sax)
2013* Little Moon Man Solo piano. Credited to Chris Hyson as composer. Released as digital EP[6]
2013 Alive with Closed Eyes Solo piano. Credited to Chris Hyson as composer. Released as digital EP
2013 Live at the 2013 Cheltenham Jazz Festival Impossible Ark As Troykestra. Orchestra. With Chris Montague (guitar), Joshua Blackmore (drums), Reuben Fowler (trumpet), Alex Bonney (trumpet), Noel Langley (trumpet), Imogen Hancock (trumpet), Kieran Stickle McLeod (trombone), Patrick Hayes (trombone), Tom Green (trombone), Courtney Brown Bass (trombone), Mike Chillingworth (alto sax), Nadim Teimoori (alto sax), Sam Miles (tenor sax), James Allsop (tenor sax), Sam Rapley (bass clarinet, baritone sax), Louis Van Der Westhuizen (bass), Ralph Hero Wyld (vibes); in concert[7]
2015* Ornithophobia Naim As Troyka. Trio, with Chris Montague (guitar), Joshua Blackmore (drums)
2015 Vyamanikal Slip Duo. With Tom Challenger (sax)

As sideman[edit]

Year recorded Band/Leader Title Label Notes
2007* Empirical, Empirical Empirical Destin-E Quintet. With Nathaniel Facey (alto sax), Jay Phelps (trumpet), Neil Charles (bass), Shaney Forbes (drums)
2009* Tracey, ClarkClark Tracey Current Climate Tentoten Sextet. With Paul Jordanous (trumpet), Pieres Green (sax), Lewis Wright (vibes), Ryan Trebilcock (bass)
2009* The Golden Age of Steam, The Golden Age of Steam Raspberry Tongue Babel Trio. With James Allsopp (reeds), Tim Giles (drums)
2011* Threads Orchestra, Threads Orchestra Threads Orchestra. With Adam Robinson (viola), Julian Gregory (violin), Semay Wu (cello), Chris Montague (guitar), Dai Pritchard (soprano sax), Ralph Wyld (vibes), Rus Pearson (bass), Joost Hendrickx (drums)
2012* Crowley, GeorgeGeorge Crowley Paper Universe Whirlwind Quartet. With Calum Gourlay (bass), James Maddren (drums)
2012* The Golden Age of Steam, The Golden Age of Steam Welcome to Bat Country Basho Trio. With James Allsopp (reeds), Tim Giles (drums). Some tracks quartet, quintet, sextet, with Alex Bonney (trumpet), James Widden (violin, viola), Alison Holford (cello), Ruth Goller (electric bass)
2013* Nostalgia 77, Nostalgia 77 Journey Too Far Tru Thoughts


External links[edit]