Touch and Flee

Music Review

21 Oct 2014
Neil Cowley Trio
Touch and Flee
www.naimlabel.com
Formats also available: 24/96 FLAC, WAV
24/96 FLAC, WAV

The Neil Cowley Trio is made up of musicians who, although they claim to be British, sound distinctly Scandinavian. This is not just an observation but high praise as well. Anybody who has listened to Scandinavian jazz will realise that it means this album will be a treat and a delight to listen to. For those looking for a new interpretation of jazz that’s not based on the macho, play- ever-faster American model Touch and Flee will serve as a mighty fine starting point.
The album comes from the Naim Label and is by far the best recording I have heard this year. It was supplied in the guise of a 24/96 FLAC download, but even when burned to CD it continues to impress. In my system at least the quality of low notes was a revelation, I suspect that many will be surprised at how good bass can sound when it’s properly recorded. But the recording mastery doesn't stop there, the instruments are placed naturally in a soundstage that is deep and wide, creating a beguiling three dimensional presence behind and ahead of the speakers.
The music is made from more rhythm than melody and more syncopation than harmony. But the overall result is captivating, innovative and appeals to ears, brain and heart. Cowley's playing style offers listeners the opportunity to hear a piano in all its moods, from tinkling to positively banging. In parts delicate in parts mighty energetic, but always musical. There is as mentioned a strong whiff of Scandinavian innovation, his style is more Wesseltoft than Gustavsen but can also be likened to that of the late Esbjorn Svensson. To my ears there are three tracks that are the equal to the best of the Nordic competition: Kneel down, Sparkling and Queen.
Cowley is not the only musician that shines on this album, the bass player Rex Horan and drummer Evan Jenkins are able to offer virtuosity that equals Cowley's abilities. This is a refreshingly different and superbly recorded album, it’s exceedingly highly recommended for those who looking for the music that one rarely has the opportunity to hear on the radio. Lamentably this trio is not able to fill halls in the UK and, much like very many other talented musicians who are able to find eager ears east of Dover, it can be found touring in Europe a lot of the time.

Reuben Klein