Live from Montreux
Pop music fans have heard Neil Cowley even if they’ve never heard of him. The pianist has played on Adele’s hit albums as well as with more alternative acts such as Brand New Heavies and Zero 7. But he considers himself a jazzman and has earned enough esteem to play the Montreux festival.
His DVD Live at Montreux 2012 is billed as by the Neil Cowley Trio, but the trio is augmented by a string quartet plucking in time to the beat. Cowley opens the midnight concert with a lovely melody on his grand piano before shifting into thornier abstractions. There is an echo of ECM chamber jazz in his performances along with a readiness to hit the stride with upbeat jazz-rock. Intensely focused while playing, Cowley becomes the personable MC of his own show in between numbers.