A jazz trio that plays modern, ambient pop? Doesn't seem plausible, but it's one way of describing the Neil Cowley Trio. Still, that description is incomplete. His songs are laden with both pop hooks and arching themes. Too accessible to be avant-garde yet complex enough for deeper consideration.
London native Cowley is a classically trained pianist, performing for the first time at age 10. In his teens he moved to keyboards, playing with soul and funk acts like the Brand New Heavies, as well as a jazz-rock outfit. He recorded Foxbury Rules as Diamond Wookie before forming a duo, Fragile State. With Ben Mynott, he recorded 3 albums. As a side musician, he's performed with the likes of Adele and Stereophonics, among others.
His eponymous trio released its debut recording, Displaced, in 2006. Five more albums have followed, the most recent being Spacebound Apes. Not content to simply release a new record, Cowley created an immersive digital experience for the music, including an interactive site, a sheet-music “single,” and graphic novel. Beautifully evocative with "full of spidery melodic diversions and off-harmony chords" (The Guardian), Spacebound Apes has garnered critical acclaim. DownBeat's Frank Alkyer raves, "All 11 songs on this album are gorgeous, some of the finest instrumental storytelling I’ve heard in a long, long time."
Cowley plays with bassist Rex Horan and Evan Jenkins on drums (Leo Abrahams on guitar on Spacebound Apes). The trio performed the recording in its entirety in support of the release.