Friday, May 14, 2010

The Neil Cowley Trio

The Neil Cowley Trio (group; formed 2006)
Neil Cowley (piano)
Richard Sadler (bass)
Evan Jenkins (drums)

British outfit, The Neil Cowley Trio have garnered a considerable praise in just 4 short years and 3 albums. The band born out of the creative mind of Neil Cowley whom spent a number of years on the electronica/jazz/chill out scene with Zero 7, Brand New Heavies and more importantly his own band Fragile State. Fragile State released two critically acclaimed albums that you must check out if you want a nice hybrid jazz and electronica.

Excising those experiments Neil moved on full time to his love of jazz and formed the trio. He has admitted that he never started out as a jazz musician (classically trained) but his inventive and exuberant approach to writing and performing has resulted three spectacular albums. Their debut, Displaced (Hide Inside Records) was refreshing with great straight ahead melodies and propulsive rhythms. Neil Cowley and his fellow band member seem more traditional than their British counterparts.

Unlike most British jazz of late which has been more abstract and experimental, Neil Cowley for me has an upbeat quality reminiscent of Sonny Clark in addition to his own interest in the great Ahmad Jamal. Displaced sparkles with a live jazz club feel, particularly on "How Do We Catch Up," "Pair Of Teeth" and even a dash of funk on "Kenny Two Steps". The bands second album, Loud, Louder, Stop (Cake Records) was massive step forward. Right from the opener, "His Nibs" The Neil Cowley Trio appear to be making a statement that they were here to stay and advance their sound. The cascading rhythms of the opener to the gentle movements of "Scardey Cat," and the beautiful ballad "Well" all encapsulate the "playing with sheer fun and abandon" ethos of the trio.

While Loud, Louder, Stop could be considered the breakthrough for the band, the latest release Radio Silence (Naim Jazz) is a massive statement of intent. With the excellent "Monoface" as its opening Neil Cowley Trio do stake claim to becoming a trio that could (quite possibly) fill the gap left by E.S.T. The fact that the trio has has only been together for such as short time is never noticed by the deep interplay they have with each other. They seem also to mastered the mixture of mid-tempo tunes and raucous crowd-pleasers as evident on tracks such as "Stereoface," "Vice Skating," and "Hug The Greyhound."

There is an over abundance of piano led trio in recent years. Many of them owing a great deal to Esbjorn Sevnsson Trio but The Neil Cowley Trio have definitely made a case that they will be standing high and above the majority as the years going on. Radio Silence should be on your list of records to check out sooner rather than later.

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