Down for the Count's new album out now!
Down for the Count are delighted to announce the release of our brand new album At The Cold Stores.
Here are the album liner notes in full!
“At The Cold Stores” is an album that Down for the Count have, to all intents and purposes, been planning since the band started in 2005. For years and years, I have wanted to experience the sound of the orchestras who recorded at Capital Studios in the 1950s and 60s – a room full of strings, horns and rhythm, blasting away at full pelt one minute and then reducing the sound to barely a whisper the next. After years of hard work we’ve finally been able to realise that dream, bringing you the album you hold in your hands today.
This album is the result of years of hard work – the band have toured up and down the country, developing each year and picking up more and more fantastically talented musicians along the way. It’s somewhat surreal that a band which grew out of a village pantomime has now grown to a 27-piece ensemble which gets to play for you at Cadogan Hall in London and numerous other jazz clubs and theatres.
We began recording this album in January 2020, recording 8 of the tracks that day (along with 2 others which were on our “Swing Into Christmas” album), with all of us in the same room, at the same time – making this essentially a “live” album. We wanted to record more songs to make a full-length album, originally planning to return to the studio a few months later and then to release the album in autumn 2020. However in March 2020 the world got turned upside down – and it was nearly nine months before we were able to return to the studio to record the final 5 tracks, by which time social distancing rules meant that we had to adjust our plans and record the orchestra in two halves (rhythm section and horns on one day, strings and vocals the next). Whether we’re in the same room at the same time or split into two groups, recording an ensemble of this sound is a huge challenge and not one for the faint-hearted. We’re enormously grateful to Ben Thomas, who has created a wonderful space with The Cold Stores in Kent. Every time we arrive at his studio we’re made to feel so welcome, and would record there every week if we could. Assisting Ben in the studio, and mastering this album, was our tour sound engineer Jack Childs – to whom we’re also enormously grateful. Jack has made a huge difference to the band’s live sound since he started working with us and couldn’t imagine performing without him.
This album would not have been possible without the wonderful work of City String Ensemble, led by Sophie Poteratchi. When coming up with the ideas for projects such as this, some people immediately think of the 10 reasons it won’t work and it never gets of the ground; however, Sophie immediately focusses on the 3 reasons it will work and that energy and enthusiasm, which is shared by her whole team, is infectious. It’s a joy working with City String Ensemble and we hope that this album is merely the start of a very exciting future partnership.
At the time of writing, 222 separate musicians have done at least one gig for Down for the Count (and we’ve virtually collaborated with even more on our Lockdown EPs) and many of the musicians on this album have been involved since the start. Katie Birtill was the singer at Down for the Count’s first ever gig, a 50th birthday party in Buckinghamshire in April 2005; and Katie Edwards, Amelia Forster and Simon Joyner joined the band a few months later. Whilst we love the fact that the Down for the Count family continues to grow, we think it’s so special that we can still trace the band’s roots back to a group of friends that began this journey decades ago.
As the band grows we’re beginning to write more of our own arrangements, rather than merely transcribing or re-interpreting other people’s work. On this album, two songs have been orchestrated by me and one by Simon Joyner, and we hope you enjoy hearing our new imaginings of jazz classics. The work of other arrangers can also be heard on this album; and we must particularly credit the incredible trio of Nelson Riddle, Gordon Jenkins and Billy May who between them did so much to transform jazz and swing music in the 1950s and 60s.
Whether we’re performing our own arrangements or those of other people, as a group we know that we are little more than guests at the party of the style of music loosely described as “jazz”. Whilst we do our best to understand the roots and origins of jazz, blues and gospel music, and to perform it with the respect and love that it deserves, we know that this music isn’t ours. The hosts of this big party called “jazz” are the African Americans who originated it (amidst poverty and slavery which we can scarcely imagine) and the enormously diverse group of musicians and songwriters who further developed it. This music belongs to them; we sincerely hope that we have done justice to it, and we ask for your forgiveness wherever we have fallen short.