Basho Records - Contemporary JazzBASHO RECORDS








Label Basho Records
Release Date: April 22nd 2013
Artist Kit Downes
Catalogue Number SRCD 42-2

Kit Downes - Piano
James Allsopp - reeds
Lucy Railton - cello
Calum Gourlay - Double Bass
James Maddren - Drums


  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

All compositions by Kit Downes.
Recorded by Robert Harder and Ben Lamdin. Mixed by Alex Killpartrick. Artwork by Lesley Barnes. Layout by Yoshiki Bann

“Everyone's favourite young pianist… unpretentiously brilliant and full of subtle touches”. The Observer

“A brilliant soloist who builds ideas slowly into cascades of melodic ideas... highly imaginative tunes and
expansive, melodic solos.” Time Out

“A choosy, patient storyteller, if one of his distinctive original themes only requires a handful of
notes and a lot of spaces, he leaves it like that.” The Guardian

"Pianist Kit Downes's slender frame and shy demeanor hide a lightening musical intelligence and an engagingly slow-burn energy." The Daily Telegraph

 ‘The dynamic goings on in the heavens are betrayed by the permanence, the stillness we actually experience when we look up, a steady evenness portrayed in this music, but stars also in their slow way reflect our own cycle of building, growing, peaking, declining, and ending - as heard in Wander and Collossus - a transformation both throughout our lives and into new life.’ Daniella Scalice, NASA Astrobiology Institute – 15/9/2012

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. Some can be seen now at

Live Dates:

2nd March – Capstone Theatre, Liverpool

8th March – Komedia, Brighton

13th April – The Hive, Shrewsbury

18th April – Bonnington Theatre, Nottingham

29th April – Cockpit Theatre, London (Jazz on 3)

7th May – Queen’s Theatre, Barnstaple

9th May – Colston Hall, Bristol

11th May – Royal Welsh College Jazz Festival, Cardiff

22nd May – The Jazz Bar, Edinburgh

23rd May – Arts Club, Glasgow

7th June – ALBUM LAUNCH – The Forge, Camden Town, London

19th June – Marlborough Jazz Festival

21st September – Kings Place, London

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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