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AAA Music | 3 March 2021

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Neil Cowley Trio – Live @ SJE Arts

| On 14, Oct 2014


Friday 10th October, Oxford

Neil Cowley‘s early training was in classical music and, as pianist to Adele’s global success ‘21’ , he became internationally well known. In the Neil Cowley Trio he’s joined by the abundantly bearded Rex Horan on bass and talented Evan Jenkins on drums. Their debut album earned a BBC Award for Best Album and in 2013 they won the Jazz FM Artist of the Year Award.

At this SJE Arts event the trio first played their fifth and latest album Touch and Flee in its entirety, possibly more reflective and introspective than previous albums. The simple but rich ‘Kneel Down’ had a minimalist drum pattern separated by long, quiet gaps whilst ‘Sparkling’ glittered brightly to evolve harmonically into something new and exciting. ‘Bryce’ was a slow and meandering song and in the oddity ‘Mission’ quirky electronic keyboard pulses relaxed into a pleasant rhythm.

After the interval Neil joked “don’t laugh”at his plan to play “the hits” and the audience reacted warmly to his playful good humour. The moving melody ‘Slims’ felt intense, whilst the fierce and funky ‘Rooster Was A Witness’ was intoxicating. ‘We Are Here to Make Plastic’ was a complex and bewildering mix of notes throughout, but the beautiful ‘Degree In Intuition’ maintained its powerful energy and ‘Box Lily’, a ballad to his daughter, had considerable charm.

The instrumental music of Neil Cowley Trio, both classic and contemporary, has a broad following. There’s a great deal of ‘light and shade’, dramatically contrasting slow with fast and loud with quiet. The three are tight, rocky and stunning, and their innovative new material is very clever in not making fans of earlier albums feel alienated.

Anthony Weightman