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.
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."
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. 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.
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.
|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|
|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|
|2015*||Ornithophobia||Naim||As Troyka. Trio, with Chris Montague (guitar), Joshua Blackmore (drums)|
|2015||Vyamanikal||Slip||Duo. With Tom Challenger (sax)|
|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|
- Jazz breaking news: Kit Downes Trio Nominated For The Mercury
- Jazz musician Kit Downes to perform in Norwich for Young Norfolk Arts Festival
- Fordham, John (22 January 2015) "Troyka: Ornithophobia Review – Take-No-Prisoners Fusion ". The Guardian.
- Dizzee Rascal heads up Mercury prize nominations
- Kit Downes blog: trio recording Archived July 18, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
- Mann, Ian (2013) "Little Moon Man – Played by Kit Downes". thejazzman.com
- Mann, Ian (2013) "Live at the 2013 Cheltenham Jazz Festival". thejazzman.com