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Canadian Heritage

Andrew Downing


ANDREW DOWNING (double bass-player, composer, bandleader, teacher) is a Toronto-based musician who is recognized for his unique and inventive take on jazz and improvised music enhanced through collaboration and performance with a varied array of musicians in many genres, including songwriter Kelly Joe Phelps, improviser Ab Baars, roots group Zubot and Dawson, trumpeter Dave Douglas, slide guitarist David Tronzo, classical cabaret singer Patricia O'Callaghan, and clarinetist Francois Houle.

Downing has played, toured, and recorded with a lengthy list of notables musicians, including Ed Bickert, Don Byron, Jim Hall, Jerry Granelli, Bob Moses, Kelly Joe Phelps, Ingrid Jensen, Eugene Chadbourne, and Bruce Cockburn. His Toronto collaborators have included Kevin Turcotte, David Braid, Phil Dwyer, Marilyn Lerner, Lina Allemano, David Occhipinti, and Brodie West.

As a leader, Downing has led a range of ensembles. His former group, The Great Uncles of the Revolution, is Juno Award-winning quartet that featured trumpeter Kevin Turcotte, violinist Jesse Zubot, and Weissenborn player Steve Dawson. Melodeon is a chamber-jazz ensmeble that plays live score to silent films.

He also has a collaborative multi-media project with Canadian songwriter John Southworth and visual artist Yesim Tosuner called Easterween featuring songs written by John and arranged by Andrew for a 7-piece chamber ensemble.

Recently, Downing began a collaboration in İstanbul, Turkey with ud (Turkish lute) player Güç Başar Gülle that incorporates Ottoman Classical music in a collection of new compositions for ud, cello, percussion and kaval (a Turkish folk instrument). Their first album, Anahtar, was released in 2013.

In 2014, Downing released Bristles with a collaborative trio that includes guitarist David Occhipinti and trumpeter Jim Lewis. The album, some of which was recorded live at the Jazz Room in Waterloo, is a collection of jazz standards and collaborative improvisations dedicated to painters including Emily Carr and Cy Twombly. The album was nominated for a JUNO in 2015.

He is a prolific composer who has written music for Runcible Spoon, the Urban Arts Brass Ensemble, the Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band, Nordic Folk group Ensemble Polaris, banjo player Jayme Stone, the Vancouver Bach Choir, Ensemble Meduse, Toca Loca, and the Prince George Symphony. He has written arrangements for Patricia O'Callaghan, the Gryphon Trio, the Annex Quartet, and the Art of Time Ensemble.

He teaches double bass, composition and improvisation in the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto and has taught at Wilfred Laurier University, the Banff Centre for the Arts International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music, and the Creative Music Workshop in Halifax, Nova Scotia.


2015 - JUNO nomination for 'Jazz Album of the Year, by a Group' for Bristles