Pianist and composer Neil Cowley has been named musician in residence in Derry for next year’s UK City of Culture festivities in the city.
Backed by the PRS for Music Foundation, local venue the Nerve Centre, and the City of Culture artistic team, Cowley, whose latest trio-plus-strings album is The Face of Mount Molehill, will be working with local musicians to perform new music primarily at the Nerve Centre.
The Cowley trio is known for its strong hooky melodies and energy-laden riffs, which appeal to rock and jazz fans alike. “What we do live is perhaps a step up from the record,” Cowley told legendary US jazz magazine Downbeat in the autumn ahead of his well received Barbican date when the basic unit was augmented with the Goldsmiths strings for Cowley’s biggest UK jazz gig to date. “We’re very much about a collective output. We’re about melodies, and the collective energy we produce.”
Cowley, who turned 40 last month is also known for his work with superstar singer Adele and was pianist on the smash hit ‘Rolling In The Deep’. The Cowley Trio is a popular draw on the international festival circuit, and toured in the US recently. At the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, Cowley presented newly arranged versions of songs from his debut, the BBC award winning album Displaced, including a magisterial version of the tune ‘How Do We Catch Up’. Cowley’s trio is built around what’s been dubbed an “Estuary sound" and with the pianist are original drummer Evan Jenkins, who is from Wellington in New Zealand, but who has lived and worked in the UK since 1994, and recently recruited Australian bassist Rex Horan, who replaced Richard Sadler, the player who appeared on the first three albums with Cowley and Jenkins. Horan has been living in the UK since 1997 but met Jenkins four years earlier in Western Australia, when they were both students in Perth. They then hooked up with various bands and now with Cowley make a formidable team that should enliven the Derry scene during a very special year and bring jazz to the fore.
Neil Cowley, pictured above