Ted Quinlan: electric and acoustic guitars
Robi Botos: piano and keyboards
Mike Downes: bass
Joaquin Nunez Hidalgo: cajón, percussion (1, 4)
Davide Di Renzo: percussion (3, 8, 11)
Noted as a profoundly musical bassist with a keen melodic sense, Toronto-based composer, arranger and bassist Mike Downes has released a number of award-winning recordings for a variety of instrumentations: from solo bass to trio, and from quartet to 11-piece ensemble. Guitar great Pat Metheny has called Downes “one of my favorite bass players.” With The Way In, Downes presents his first recording for piano, guitar and bass trio featuring his longtime musical collaborators Robi Botos and Ted Quinlan, alongside Joaquin Nunez Hidalgo and Davide Di Renzo – two extraordinary guest percussionists who appear on five pieces.
The Way In showcases the immense musicality of the core trio. “We have a deep, deep connection from years of playing together. I wanted to approach this album from a chamber music perspective while showcasing the improvisational brilliance of each musician” notes Downes. “I’ve been writing a lot of arrangements for large ensemble lately, including symphony orchestra, and I thought it would be intriguing to distill those compositional techniques and orchestration aesthetics to a drummer-less trio setting, where all of the nuances are front and centre and the music breathes in a different way.” Quinlan and Botos appeared on both of Downes’ JUNO award-winning albums, Ripple Effect (2013) and Root Structure (2017).
The jazz tradition boasts a rich history of drummer-less trios: the early Ahmad Jamal Trio (including Chamber Music of the New Jazz); the Oscar Peterson Trio with Ray Brown and Herb Ellis; the Nat King Cole trio; the Roy Hargrove/Christian McBride/Stephen Scott Trio; all these and more served as inspiration during the creation of The Way In.
A prominent fixture on the Canadian and international jazz scenes for years, Downes has long been praised for his limitless versatility, seemingly effortless technique, and his extensive knowledge of not only the bass, but of the foundations of music in general. “I’m incredibly proud of where I’ve landed as a composer and of the profound musical connections that are evident in this album,” states Downes. “I feel it’s my best work to date.”
Release Date: Friday, March 1st 2024