The Neil Cowley Trio - Loud And Proud

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The Neil Cowley Trio shook up jazz fans two years ago with debut album Displaced, which was a bolt from the blue at the time. Neil Cowley, Richard Sadler and Evan Jenkins grabbed the jazz trio format by the scruff of its neck while not forgetting the elements that made it great in the first place. Cowley, best known for his work with key jazz funk and chill out bands, had come up with a post-EST concept that was distinctly fresh and rooted in his jazz influences, including the music of Keith Jarrett. 
The Neil Cowley Trio - Loud And Proud
The second album by the trio comes out this month. With its “augmented” chordal feel, sense of momentum and mininimalism set free, it’s one that the jazz world has been waiting for since the trio won album of the year at last year’s BBC jazz awards. Stuart Nicholson was there in the studio with the band when the album was laid down last summer and spoke to them again ahead of its release.

The countryside around Corsham in Wiltshire is among the most picturesque in England. It’s a scene that hasn’t changed much in centuries where swaying wheat fields and lush green meadows dotted with woodlands gaze down on a racing stream below. It’s an area famous for UFO sightings and crop circles. Mysterious prehistoric sites – standing stones, burial mounds and earthworks – seem to be around every corner and within a 30-minute drive are the historic sites of Glastonbury, Stonehenge and King Alfred’s ancient stronghold, Athelney.

As the early morning mist cleared on a sunny August morning last year, countless buttercups, daisies and dandelions covered the roadside that winds through these parts that takes you through the village of Box. Here you’ll find a 200-year-old mill house that was given a new lease of life in 1987 when it was converted into the Real World Studios by rock and world music star Peter Gabriel. In the control room of Studio B, hunched over a mixing desk was Dom, recording the final couple of tracks for the new Neil Cowley album Loud… Louder... Stop! A genuinely witty man, Cowley has used the opening words of a sniffy review of the trio in The Observer last year as the album title to highlight how some older critics fail to get the fresh new sounds being made by Britain’s young generation of jazz musicians.

Surrounded by the red walls of the control room, with a large TV screen showing the trio at work on the studio floor, he is concentrating on a computer screen where balance levels dance in time to the music. The trio is working on a track called ‘His Nibs’ and after working through it several times, come in to listen to the playbacks on the control room monitors. After a few moments of quiet but intense conversation, it’s decided to take the bass accompaniment out of the drum solo.

After two more takes everyone is happy. The three come back into the control room to listen to the results. As Neil Cowley moves in time to the music, it’s clear the second take is the one. “That did it for me,” says bassist Richard Sadler, as drummer Evan Jenkins nods in agreement. “That’s it, then, let’s take five,” says Cowley and walks outside into the intense morning sunlight.

This is an extract from Jazzwise Issue #117 to read the full feature and receive a Free CD Subscribe Here...