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Related Reviews

iDrum Magazine
"healthy provisions of humour and melodrama"
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New York Magazine
"slickly produced in the rough-hewn world of jazz"
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Time Out New York
"handsome originals...strong, stirring stuff"
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New York Times
“featuring the same adaptable trio found on his prepossessing new album, Cowley is well known for bridging the chasm between jazz and pop”
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San Francisco Chronicle
"rocking groove tunes and atmospheric numbers"
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Something Else
"Part George Winston, part Ben Folds, part the Bad Plus... a mighty mixture of elegance, attitude and wit"
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audaud.com
"celebratory piano riffs, lively tempo, and a groove enriched by a pizzicato strings"
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Jazz In Space
"straight-up contemporary jazz with a bang-bang edge"
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Midwest Record
"One of those bands that has the special sauce to break out of the critic's darling ghetto and get real people on their side"
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Downbeat Magazine
"I believe London’s jazz scene is the most vibrant right now, and NCT [Neil Cowley Trio] is its most brilliant incarnation"
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Magnet Magazine
"nothing but thrills and excitement" and that, "we're finally experiencing a worthwhile British Invasion (of modern jazz). Check them out." Magnet Magazine.
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Jazz Times
"Neil Cowley and his trio thrilled with a dynamic set, tackling the jazz-rock divide in a different, yet equally engaging fashion. Captivating melodies marked by intricate time signatures and catchy hooks were delivered with a hard-hitting urgency (check the new The Face of Mount Molehill)."
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Irish Examiner
"Like an advert for a popular make of car, take it for a drive and you'll understand"
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SAGA
"powered instrumentals that are smart but not too pleased with themselves"
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Evening Standard
"powerful dynamic"
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Scottish Daily Express
"piano, bass and drums are cleverly augmented"
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Next Bop
"one of those albums that makes good use of all the tools in its toolbox and is certainly worthy of all the depth for which it is striving to achieve"
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Music News
"This is really very fine: top class writing and strong playing, music for a dark and cold night that carries its own heat"
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The Independent
"sophisticated, tightly crafted set which makes you want to go back to the beginning"
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BBC Music
"There’s minimalism, but it’s the minimalism of sheer melodic space, and a refreshing sort of simplicity."
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The Scotsman
"catchy melodic hooks and crunching rhythmic surge"
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Subba Cultcha
“A stunning evolution of the art-form from the countries leading jazz pianist.... a collision between the worlds of jazz and post-rock which takes the complexity of the former and the melodrama of the former.”
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E Music
4 Stars
“its pleasure is in its stimulation: In a very real sense, it’s a refreshing listen.”
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Artic Reviews
“a thumping, full on rock dynamic that closely resembles a Tom Chaplin-less Keane”
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Is This Music
“you’ll want to hear this again and again.”
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The Word
“a lovely record of concise, melodic tracks that might find favour with anyone who has ever been attracted to Brubeck, the Penguin Café Orchestra, or Sumpertramp”
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Jazz Journal
"bounding energy, high drama, puckish wit, and catchy melodic hooks"
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MOJO
"Impressive fourth album"
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Jazzwise
4 Stars
"no-messin' tightly-arranged 'songs without a singer'...another high quality release"
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British Jazz Blog
"a rhythmically driven record with an inventive jazz bite...real must listen for 2012"
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Yorkshire Evening Post
"To pigeonhole The Face of Mount Molehill as a jazz release would do it an injustice - it is simply great music"
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Indie London
“It’s a fascinating listen… as uplifting as it can be sorrowful, but always keen to surprise and delight in its different ways.”
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Scotland Sunday Herald
“…beautifully written and carefully arranged …. a certain grandeur …appealing quirkiness ….and talent for movingly tender reflection”
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Fake DIY
"does not readily conform to pre-conceived notions of jazz...offering almost a rock music-like aesthetic to the proceedings."
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AAA Music
"Lovers of jazz will be excited, touched and thrilled by this album”
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Music OMH
“…moments of graceful poise and pounding insight... Cowley has crafted a coherent, carefully planned suite of music here with a strong conceptual framework and a remarkably consistent sound”
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The Times
"short, catchy tunes and melodies"
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The Telegraph
4 Stars
“…. a loveable English eccentric with odd blend of ‘anthemic’ melody and unexpected moments of pastoral radiance…. (he and strings) work perfectly together”
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Blues & Soul
"the strings and sound collage guitar just keep the ante going up and up. Stupendous!"
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The Line Of Best Fit
"rollicking energy captured...not sound out of place"
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Time Out
4 Stars
“tips the scales of success in favour of his credible hybrid of proggish-rock, jazzy melancholy and English melodic whimsy…a glorious romp of a record”
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Vanguard Online
“This is charming and witty stuff, full of dynamics and a fresh sounding piano that switches between pounding and picking out melodies"
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Shout4Music
"‘The Face Of Mount Molehill’ with its driving rhythmic melodies. He is the type of musician you could only wish on stumbling across in a late night bar and on arrival being drawn into every note.”
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Fwd Music
“Neil Cowley Trio have stuck to what they do best, with mainly piano based melodies throughout this beautiful album. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, as the sheer creativity of writing behind this album makes it able to stand out from the crowd”
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The Sunday Times
“worth testing out on a recalcitrant teen who thinks all jazz is as forbidding as Sanskrit“
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17 Seconds
"once heard, you’ll want to hear this again and again.”
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The Guardian
4 Stars
"set audiences bopping to a smart splicing of punchy themes and chord-belting, rock-piano climaxes"
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Record Collector
4 Stars
“wistfully lyrical and dynamic to an adrenaline pumping degree…their most impressive opus yet”
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UNCUT Magazine
4 Stars
“the greatest stadium-filling anthems that Coldplay never wrote"
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Culture Captial
"The Face Of Mount Molehill is diverse and well formed...it’s an album that’s going to stay firmly on my playlist.”
more >>
Alt Sounds
"It's reminiscent of the pop leanings of a composer such as Thomas Newman"
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All Gigs
"award-winning threesome have delivered a smart, polished and pretension-free set"
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Neil Cowley Trio in the LA Times


07 September 2012
Los Angeles Times
Chris Barton,

Jazz pianist Neil Cowley may not be a household name, but odds are pretty good you've heard him in your household.

Backing Adele on both her breakthrough album, "19," and the nearly inescapable follow-up, "21," Cowley stepped in after the singer's original keyboardist returned to his day job. Those are his chunky chords you've bobbed your head along with during the Grammy-winning chorus of "Rolling in the Deep."

"As my manager says, I'm the most listened-to pianist on the planet - but no one's aware of who I am," Cowley said with a laugh. "It's just by default."

On the cusp of his jazz trio's first full-length American tour (the group comes to the Mint on Oct. 16), the U.K.-born Cowley is eager to change all that. Trained as a classical "thoroughbred" performing Shostakovich at age 10, Cowley threw himself into pop and rock as a teenager after falling in with a Blues Brothers cover band, which exposed him to the sound of James Brown and Ray Charles. From there it was a matter of continuing his education on his own.

"I spent the next several years just buried in all forms of modern music," Cowley said, speaking by phone while on vacation in France. "And of course being a piano player with some kind of technique I was obviously attracted to the more challenging areas of music."

Soon he found himself immersed in the blues and transcribing songs by jazz artists such as Miles Davis, and after performing with U.K. bands such as the Brand New Heavies and the electronics-shaded Zero 7, Cowley eventually formed his own trio. With no formal training in jazz but a desire to perform something "soulful and live-based," the pianist hoped to leave a mark by referencing the sound of Britain around him.

"If you do jazz in the usual form, there's going to be way too many acts from your side of the Atlantic that are going to do it way better," he said. "You need to do something ... to convey your personality. You have to look around and say, 'Well, what do we do best?' Well, we do pop and rock pretty well, so you'd be a fool to ignore that."

Incorporating those elements along with the collective highs and breakdowns that drew Cowley into the U.K. dance music scene, his trio's debut album, "Displaced," spares the conventional structure and solos of jazz for a driving, groove-oriented sound that leaves room for the band to improvise as a group. Though the sound stood apart from much of what was happening in U.K. jazz clubs, the trio won the BBC Jazz Award for best album in 2007.

"The guy who presented us with the award said, 'Well, I never heard of these guys,' and it's true, he hadn't," Cowley said. "The jazz community was shocked, the BBC Jazz Awards were shocked, and we were shocked. We were jazz, and we had no idea."

Though parts of the group's sound recall similarly genre-blind piano trios such as the Bad Plus, Cowley is mindful of being unconsciously influenced by their sound ("I avoid [listening to them] like the plague, not because I don't think they're amazing - I do - I just don't want any of it to come out in our music"). Consequently, his fourth album, "The Face of Mount Molehill," marks a departure for Cowley with addition of cinematic strings and textural flourishes from one of Brian Eno's collaborators in guitarist Leo Abrahams.

But the crisp melodies and driving interplay between Cowley and his rhythm section remain key, and the pianist is "blind with confidence" that the trio's energetic performances will earn new fans as they try to break through in the U.S.

"Anyone with any interest in contemporary music just thinks America is the home, you know? That's where you want to be known," he said. Referencing a period early in his career when he came to the States to work with songwriter Siedah Garrett, Cowley adds, "I've always had that slight regret that I didn't just turn up and live in a [rented room] in L.A.

"What I intend to do is to make up for lost time."





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