Album reviews

Lucia Cadotsch (with Kit Downes, Phil Donkin, James Maddren) – ‘Aki’

Lucia CadotschAki

(Heartcore Records HCR21. Album review by Jon Turney)

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The recording debut of a superb new quartet – Aki is the name of the band and the CD title – this release sees Lucia Cadotsch focussing on her own writing, as opposed to the luminous treatments of jazz standards and folk songs of her brace of recordings with the trio Speak Low.

This new ensemble, with Kit Downes on piano and (very briefly) organ, Phil Donkin, bass and James Maddren, drums, is still built around her voice – airy, clear and lightly inflected – but now delivering her own songs. These conjure a similar mood to Speak Low’s efforts. She and her collaborators produce songs that are fragments of dialogue or monologue in progress. The consistent swerve round clear story-telling leaves us with tantalising hints of lost loves and familial griefs, with occasional suggestions of something more apocalyptic. (Sample titles: I Won’t; Bitter Long Lying Leisure; No Apology; Naked and Numb.)The single cover, Brecht/Weill’s Ballad of the Drowned Girl, a repeat from the second Speak Low set, is delivered against just bass and lightly brushed cymbals, and underscores the prevailing, somewhat disillusioned, air.

The music comes from Cadotsch herself, Downes, or the band in collaboration, and her cohorts are a perfect fit. Downes is a strong presence throughout and his chordal palette complements her deliciously disconsolate vocal delivery beautifully. Heartcore records founder Kurt Rosenwinkel contributes similarly apt guitar on two tracks. Donkin reminds UK folks that it is a shame he (like Downes) currently resides in Berlin. And in a band whose signature style is low-key brilliance, James Maddren’s drums invariably do just enough, never too much.

This group promised much when they appeared at Cheltenham last year, and their recording delivers handsomely. I hope they can include the UK in their touring schedule again soon.

Jon Turney writes about jazz, and other things, from Bristol. Twitter @jonwturney

AKI is released today, Friday 26 May 2023 BANDCAMP

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