LUCIA CADOTSCH voice
KIT DOWNES piano, organ
PHIL DONKIN double bass
JAMES MADDREN drums
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 of her experience as a leading female bandleader in contemporary jazz.
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 Squarepusher and Bill Frisell and leads his own acclaimed projects. His thrilling virtuosity on “I Won’t”, angular harmony on “Secedas”, and laid-back melodicism 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 large 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”. She cites Charis Karantzas, the mixing and mastering engineer on the record as an essential partner who helped shape the sonic vibe of AKI’s debut with incredible dedication.
Lyrically, Cadotsch celebrates the perspectives of female protagonists all over the album. 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 plain 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.
It has been a lifelong musical dream for Cadotsch to work with Kurt Rosenwinkel, who provides guest solos on “Bitter Long Lying Leisure” and “Medusa’s Champagne”. Rosenwinkel was a pivotal influence on Cadotsch in her early twenties, becoming a musical mentor for her when she moved to Berlin to study music. 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.