Neon Quartet (Press) - Stan Sulzmann

Neon Quartet (Press)

‘The music produced by the Neon Quartet is at once muscular and thoughtful, rich and subtle, its four members bouncing ideas off each other with infectious enjoyment’. LONDON JAZZ

‘Absorbing, elegant but forceful music from four of the UK’s most accomplished musicians; recommended’. Vortex CD Reviews

‘The interplay between the musicians of the Neon Quartet is consistently interesting and technically brilliant’. The Jazz Mann

Neon Quartet Biography
Four musicians come together in Neon from markedly different paths and trajectories. Youngest first, pianist Kit Downes is 23 and yet many an older musician would envy his track record. A Royal Academy graduate, Kit is already one of the most talked-about players of his generation. He first came to prominence with the award-winning group Empirical and with the equally high-profile Fraud. Since then his CD’s with his own trio and with the powerful, electronic three-piece Troyka have received acclaim way beyond the confines of British jazz.

Kit plays with drummer Tim Giles in James Allsopp’s Golden Age Of Steam. Tim has been playing professionally since he was 11 years old backing giants of the music like Art Farmer, Charles McPherson and Peter King. Barely in his teens, Tim joined Iain Ballamy, bassist Steve Watts and young pianist Richard Fairhurst in Ballamy’s Hungry Ants. Unlike so many precocious talents – Tim just keeps getting better. Another RAM graduate, Tim was a member of Fraud and is a key player in trumpeter Tom Arthurs’ Centripede project. One of the most musical drummers on the scene, Tim Giles truly sculptures sound.

Vibist Jim Hart is a founder member of London’s LOOP collective and one of the most in-demand musicians on the British scene, as a soloist and as a sideman on both drums and vibes. His two main projects as a group leader – Gemini and The Jim Hart Quartet – have met with justifiable praise and he is one of the most exciting performers to emerge on vibes and marimba for many years. Jim was also, of course, a member of the original Neon trio with pianist Gwilym Simcock and Stan Sulzmann.

That leaves saxophonist Stan Sulzmann himself. Like Jim Hart, Stan is a graduate of NYJO – though his tenure was a few years earlier. Stan’s biography reads like a ‘Who’s Who?’ of jazz – Kenny Wheeler, John Taylor, Gordon Beck and US pianist Marc Copland have all been long-term associates. His forty years in the business have seen him work with Gil Evans, Mike Gibbs, the New York Composers’ Orchestra, Michael Brecker and the NDR Big Band. As well as being a wonderfully lyrical saxophonist, Stan is a much-respected composer, and his big band album Birthdays, Birthdays is a fine example of his talent.
Neon might have begun life as a trio but it is as a quartet that they achieve the most complete expression to date. The addition of Tim Giles and Kit Downes has brought something, darker and edgier to the group and allowed it to fulfil its rhythmic potential. With three composers on board, Neon’s music is a rich pageant of sound and shifting rhythms. Neon is so much more than the sum of its parts.

Subjekt is the new album by the Neon Quartet and their second for Edition Records. Their music is rich in colour, rhythmically robust and melodically persuasive, bursting with texture, nuances and interplay. Neon Quartet is made up of four extraordinary musicians equipped with strong personalities and individual sounds but it’s when the four play together that the magic really happens.

Led by legendary British saxophonist Stan Sulzmann, this bass-less quartet combines values of experience with the freshness and vitality of youth. Featuring three of the most talked about and in demand players of their generation including Kit Downes, Jim Hart and Tim Giles, Subjekt, looks set to firmly root this formidable band as one of the most exciting and leading chamber jazz ensembles in the UK scene.

‘Each member makes a superb individual contribution but the Quartet’s real strength is how brilliantly they combine as a team, sharing melodic and rhythmic duties on this complex, often dazzling, perpetually shifting, but never overtly “difficult” music. Sulzmann seems to thrive in the company of these still young lions of the UK jazz scene, relishing the challenges their collective levels of adventurousness set for him. He celebrates his sixty fifth birthday in 2013 but on this evidence is currently making the best music of his life.’ The Jazz Mann

‘It’s another advance for this gifted, multi-generational band’s reflections on jazz’s past and present’. The Guardian

Catch Me
‘The Quartet’s use of counterpoint, its rhythmic flexibility, imaginative interplay and lyrical and inventive soloing combine improvisation with a scrupulous attention to detail without compromising the organic development of each performance.’ Irish Times *****

‘A delightful surprise….purposefully hip and vibrant…Hart’s conversations with Downes sound like some of the most seductive piano-vibes dialogues this side of John Lewis’s and Milt Jackson’s in the legendary Modern Jazz Quartet.’ The Guardian ****

‘Neon’s sheer concentration of talent, enhanced by its singularity of purpose, makes every moment of Catch Me spellbinding… Serious music vibrating with energy and beauty… Don’t miss it.’ All About Jazz (Chris May)

‘Terrific’ The Observer