Neil Cowley Trio’s latest recording Radio Silence comes to me as do many of my topics for review, in a pack of CDs provided by a publicist. This CD lived among my assignments for far too long. I only recently went back to it to give it another listen before writing this review. What I found among the compositions was a sensuality and energy that had been missing from many new jazz recordings of late. There is fullness in these compositions, a story with introductions, character development and climax. I found the title track “Radio Silence” to be full of rhythm and tonal dynamics that conveyed a sense of expression from the composer and the musicians. This band, featuring Cowley on piano, Richard Sadler on bass, and Evan Jenkins on drums is tight. They interplay during improvisations with a confident sense of self and band. They are familiar with each other, the pieces and their sense in time and space. The last track on the CD, "Portal", is a beautifully lyric composition that provides yet another dimension of the Trio and Cowley as a composer. This song harkens some of the expansive melodic work of George Winston, and yet the Trio puts so much more energy into the delivery, than a soloist might provide. The song explodes into a melodic, moving piece and an appropriate climax to this fine work.
Cowley is a London-born musician who started off in classical studies, worked through a solid career in pop music, continuing with such successful work as recording on both of Adele’s popular CDs “19” and “21”. The trio has been making a name for itself on the London jazz scene and throughout Europe. “Radio Silence” is their third and most developed effort. The song selection covers many bases of mood and theme. All compositions have a uniqueness and fullness. This is a solid effort by the Trio, a listening pleasure.