Prominent bandleader in contemporary jazz Lucia Cadotsch presents her new quartet with pianist/organist Kit Downes (UK), bassist Phil Donkin (UK) and drummer James Maddren (UK). Building on the success of her previous work, she is releasing her 10th album AKI with guest performances by legendary Kurt Rosenwinkel (USA) on guitar.
Award-winning vocalist and producer Lucia Cadotsch’s newest musical guise is AKI, a quartet of some of the most brilliant and distinctive voices working in contemporary jazz. Kit Downes (piano/organ), Phil Donkin (bass), James Maddren (drums), and guest Kurt Rosenwinkel (guitar) collaborate with Cadotsch to create an affecting debut album, full of robust musicianship and emotive compositions anchored by the Cadotsch’s somnambulant lyrical explorations.
Kit Downes is a friend and close collaborator with Cadotsch who co-wrote most of the songs on the album. He has played with artists as diverse as Bill Frisell and Squarepusher and leads his own acclaimed projects. His thrilling virtuosity on “I Won’t”, biting dissonance on “Secedas”, and lyrical support for the vocal melody on “Lily of the Nile” showcase his sensitive and unique voice on the keys. Bassist Phil Donkin has worked with John Abercrombie, Mark Turner, and Kurt Rosenwinkel. Donkin also wrote “Naked and Numb”, a beautifully jagged piece with fragmented intervallic leaps. Drummer James Maddren is a first-call UK drummer, playing with Norma Winstone and Jacob Collier, and has been a close collaborator with Downes for decades. The rhythm section provides an engaging counterpoint to Cadotsch’s vocals on “Ballad of the Drowned Girl”, and finds a deep unrelenting groove on “No Apology”.
AKI’s collective compositional process allows them to reimagine and reinterpret each other’s pieces through their own musical lenses, allowing for space for everyone to shine equally. Cadotsch remarks that the band “carries me in an embracing way”. It’s an emotional experience for her to work with such a supportive team of “people who really listen and trust me”. She cites Charis Karantzas, the mixing and mastering engineer on the record as an important partner who helped shape the sonic vibe of AKI’s debut.
Lyrically, Cadotsch celebrates the perspectives of female protagonists all over the album, reflecting on her own experiences as a bandleader in a rather male-dominated, normative music environment. Album opener “I Won’t” is a series of boundary-setting proclamations that Cadotsch sings with her trademark frank clarity. In “Ballad of the Drowned Girl”, Cadotsch’s phrasing reanimates the visceral Brecht/Weill murder ballad of revolutionary socialist and anti-war activist Rosa Luxemburg into a touching, matter-of-fact memorial. On “Medusa’s Champagne” she transforms the terrifying mythological figure of Medusa into a creature of sensuality.
“When I was in my late teens, full of dreams and hopes to become a musician, I discovered Kurt Rosenwinkel’s music. The Next Step and Heartcore were the soundtrack to my first years in Berlin, which was a very special period in my life, and the beginning of my path of dedicating my life to music.” – Lucia Cadotsch
Lucia Cadotsch moved to Berlin in 2002, at the tender age of 18. She took the night train, with only a suitcase and a bicycle with her. There she also met the legendary guitarist and producer from Philadelphia, Kurt Rosenwinkel, who eventually signed her on his label Heartcore Records. It has been a longtime musical dream for Cadotsch to work with Kurt Rosenwinkel, who provides guest performances on “Bitter Long Lying Leisure” and “Medusa’s Champagne”. There’s a moment on “Medusa’s Champagne” where Rosenwinkel’s solo sits under Cadotsch’s voice and quotes her chorus melody. It’s a subtle moment that quietly validates Cadotsch’s long musical journey. She has worked tirelessly and uncompromisingly on her sound, and like Rosenwinkel, we’re behind her, and we’re listening.
Press release by Isaac Szeto
album release: 26.05.2023
single release I WON’T: 31.03.2023
single release BITTER LONG LYING LEISURE: 21.04.2023