Neil Cowley Trio
@ the Love Supreme Jazz Festival
7 July 2013
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London born Neil Cowley has become one of the UK’s most respected
and talked-about pianists. As a young boy Cowley studied classical
music at the prestigious Royal Academy, and by the age of 10 had
performed a Shostakovich piano concerto to a full house at London’s
Queen Elizabeth Hall.
By his mid-teens, Cowley had joined a friend in a Blues Brothers
Tribute band, (“as a way” he says “of getting
into pubs”), and by the age of 17 had turned his back
on formal training altogether, and entered the world of pop. He
went on to record and tour with some of the best soul and funk bands
of the day, including Gabrielle, The Pasadenas, 4 years with the
Brand New Heavies, and Zero 7, until in 2002 he formed his own band,
As one half of the Fragile State production duo, Cowley set the
world of jazzy chill-out music alight and produced two critically
acclaimed albums, from which came “Four-Four-Four”,
a track that was later licensed by Vodafone for a nationwide commercial.
When the record company dissolved, Cowley continued to make music;
his incredible versatility as a composer saw him producing themes
to a number of television programmes and documentaries, drawing
on desert blues, chill, jazz and orchestral soundtrack.
Cowley soon began to find the experience of extracting music from
a computer chip unbearable, so set forth with his dear friend the
piano and a renewed enthusiasm to present creativity without technological
hindrance. Cowley began composing and eventually realised a long-standing
vision, and formed the Neil Cowley Trio with Richard Sadler on double
bass and Evan Jenkins on drums.
In June 2006 Cowley formed his own label, Hide Inside Records,
and released his debut album “Displaced”, an outstanding
album of original recordings that presented him as a dazzling pianist
and stunning composer. Through his powerful examination of the possibilities
of the acoustic piano trio, Cowley created a unique trademark sound
that delivered dynamic, powerful music, capable of heart shattering
tenderness, and ferociously forceful melodies in one dizzy sitting.
The album was released to huge critical acclaim, and won the award
for Best Album at the 2007 BBC Jazz Awards.
In February 2007, Neil Cowley Trio undertook their first full UK
tour. At the heart of their captivating live performances is Cowley’s
remarkable rapport with his audience - his marvellously English
wit, mischievous humour and instinctive flair & ingenuity as
an entertainer continues to attract full houses and standing ovations.
In the summer of 2007, the trio recorded their follow-up album,
“Loud... Louder...Stop” for the indie jazz label, Cake.
Fizzing with the energy of rock and the surging dynamics of dance
music, Cowley solidified his sound, yet stretched the envelope further.
Released in March 2008, it placed him and his trio at the forefront
of the British ‘Post-Jazz’ movement, and earned them
far-reaching critical acclaim from across the music al spectrum.
Mojo hailed the recording as a “Modern Classic”, and
listed it in their ‘50 Best Albums’ of that year. The
trio became noted for blurring the boundaries between jazz and other
genres, and, dubbed ‘Jazz for Radiohead fans’, they
found themselves with a diverse touring schedule that would take
them from Glastonbury and the iTunes Festival to the infamous Ronnie
Scott's Jazz Club. A TV appearance on Later with Jools, a Mojo cover-mounted
CD (a celebratory reworking of the Beatle’s Revolution), and
a Guinness commercial inched them further toward crossover status.
In the meantime, dedication to his trio would see Cowley decline
various invitations to appear as sideman on other projects. However,
his contribution to the platinum-selling ‘19’, the debut
recording from fellow-Londoner, Adele, and in particular his poignantly
expressive intro to the stand-out Hometown Glory is now legendary.
More recently, Cowley has collaborated with the Stereophonics on
their current album, “Keep Calm and Carry On”.
“Radio Silence” is Cowley’s third album and undoubtedly
his most cohesive recording to date. It is released on one of the
UK’s most exciting Indy labels, Naim Jazz, in April 2010,
and though the recording does not stray too far from the Cowley
template, it represents the sound of a band fully comfortable in
their unique sonic skin. It is the record that Cowley has been working
towards, seizing the magical empathy of his unit, who, with thousands
of hours under their belt have learnt to breathe and listen as one.