There is no point in pretending that Kit Downes is a name I had heard of prior to the Mercury nominations and indeed there is always concern that the judges in there attempt to prove how cosmpolitan they are or not to be seen to neglect a specific musical genre decide that this is little more than 2010s "token or obligatory jazz album". That would be a shame of momentous proportions since this is really an album that everyone should seek out with it fizzling jazz piano, fine compositions and sparkling accompaniment. It heralds the arrival on the scene of an immense new talent, since Downes may only be 23 but he has absorbed and learned from those great masters Keith Jarrett and Brad Mehldau and put this to great effect.
The other members of Downes's band of jazz fellow travellers are his chums from the Royal Academy of Music students Calum Gourlay on bass and James Maddren on drums and a fine trio they make. Modesty almost permits me from stating quite how smitten I am with the title track of this album and the wonderful tour de force that is "Dance took place" the albums centre point, but I shall do my best. "Golden" has that lovely feel that the the god like genius Bill Evans brought to ivory tinkling, it has a light touch and its other-worldly, impressionistic brush strokes of sound. Gourlay's bass solo halfway through is a model of restraint, while the incessant beat of Maddren propels the piece forward. Truly great stuff. The fastest composition on here is "Dance took place" which probably owes as many debts to Debussy or Bartok as it does Jarrett with its opening tumbling solo piano which then consolidates into a bass and piano duel full of slippery lines and a gloriously convoluted piano excursion onto the down slopes. Sir David Attenborough is a man of great inspiration but it appears that the opener of this album 'Jump Minzi Jump' actually owes more to a cat featured in one of his programmes; without doubt it is as lively as the little rascal standing on a hot tin roof. The longest piece on here is "Homely" which is probably more classical than the other songs although it shifts into a slow blues motif and is none the worse for it.
Overall "Golden" shows that in Kit Downes we have a jazz pianist attune to fresh angles and with prodigious ability. If he can produce a jazz album of such fine quality at 23 then we should quake in fear at what he might achieve in the future. This is no "token" jazz album for the Mercury judges to set to one side but a work of astonishing maturity.