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The Shape of Jazz To Come presents: Joe Downard

Line up

Joe Downard (Double Bass/Electric Bass)

Will Barry (Piano)

Felix Ambach (Drums)

Alex Hitchcock (Tenor Sax)

Rupert Cox (Keyboards/Synths)

James Copus (Trumpet)


‘Seven Japanese Tales’ is a project created by Joe that explores his recent interest in Japanese
literature. In looking to discover and evolve a concept for the band, Joe took influence from the
writings of Jun’ichirō Tanizaki and his book ‘Seven Japanese Tales’. The short stories that were
featured in this book helped to inspire the compositional process and thus cemented the concept
that he wanted for this project. Both the album and the live aspect of this band features seven
compositions, each named after one of the seven short stories. The band features 6 of the finest
musicians in London and Europe, each wholly virtuosic in their own right as composers and
improvisors. Featuring Joe Downard (Double Bass/Electric Bass), Alex Hitchcock (Tenor Sax),
James Copus (Trumpet), Will Barry (Piano), Rupert Cox (Keyboards/Synths) and Felix Ambach
(Drums), Joe does away with a traditional lineup for a sextet and has introduced the idea of two
pianos, which widely opens up the textural capabilities and allows for more free and unsolicited
improvisations. Having two horn instruments in the front line brings a degree of punctuality to
Joe’s compositions while the intense relationship between drums and bass keeps the music full
of momentum. This as a concept means that each performance of the seven compositions has the
chance to be completely different.


Joe Downard

As one of the most in demand bassists in the UK, Joe Downard is widely recognised for his skills as a performer and improvisor. Joe is a crucial component to many of the UK’s top rhythm sections that range from modern contemporary Jazz and Soul to Electronic and Western African music, he is regularly seen in these groups touring the UK and Europe.

Joe has received much recognition for his contribution to the music scene he thrives in today with accolades such as being named “one to watch” in Bass Guitar Magazine, The Worshipful Company Of Musicians -‘Jazz Musician of the Year’ finalist and most recently the recipient of the Sir Elton John Scholarship to attend the Masters course at the Royal Academy of Music. Joe has now graduated from the Royal Academy of Music with distinction and additionally received a foundation award for achievement. 

In 2019 Joe is most likely to be spotted at Ronnie Scott’s performing at one of the nightly Late Late shows whilst balancing life as a professional student. 2019 is also the year that has seen the birth of the Joe Downard Sextet that features original compositions of his and boasts a roster of the finest jazz musicians in Europe with the debut album ‘Seven Japanese Tales’ to be released later this year. 

Will Barry 

Will Barry is a pianist, drummer and percussionist from London who graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in 2016. He is part of numerous projects internationally, most prominently with Phronesis bassist Jasper Høiby’s group ‘Fellow Creatures’. Will has most recently joined the UK jazz super group Kairos Quartet as he continues to be one of the leading pianists in Europe. 

Felix Ambach 

Since 2016 studies at the University of Music and Dance Cologne with Jonas Burgwinkel Felix has won numerous soloist prizes at Jugend Musiziert (classical drums) and at Jugend Jazzt with the trio “First Circle” He has already recorded two albums with First Circle with their debut album “gläüö” released in June 2017 by UNIT Records

Felix has been a core member for several years for both the LandesJugendJazzOrchester Hessen and BuJazzo orchestra and continues to balance his time across Europe as one of the most in demand drummers currently. 

Rupert Cox 

Rupert Cox, 24 year old pianist and recent graduate of the Royal Academy of Music, is one of London’s most in demand musicians both as a soloist and a sideman.

Rupert has recently completed a UK album tour for Tom Barford’s Edition record release “Bloomer” performing at venues such as King’s Place, Turner Sims Concert Hall and Pizza Express Jazz Soho. He has toured Europe with Multi instrumentalist Quinn Oulton and was a chair holder with the NYJO for 2 years and plays piano on the critically acclaimed NYJO 50 album.

Rupert has also played with the celebrated Kansas Smitty’s House Band, with Robin Eubanks and the Human Revolution Orchestra, in addition to recording with producer multi/instrumentalist Dave De Rose, Quinn Oulton

Alex Hitchcock 

Alex Hitchcock is an award-winning London-born saxophonist and composer. He leads his own quintet, whose increasingly burgeoning reputation on the international jazz stage was confirmed by first place in the Conad Jazz Contest at the 2018 Umbria Jazz Festival.

 Hitchcock has performed with, amongst others, Chris Cheek, Soweto Kinch, Stan Sulzmann, Mark Lockheart, Andrew McCormack, Maria Chiara Argirò, Thibaut François, the Blackbyrds, and Franco-Belgian duo André Charlier/Benoit Sourisse. Larger ensemble work includes the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra at the O2 Arena, the BBC Big Band and the Laurence Cottle Big Band.

James Copus 

James Copus is an award winning jazz trumpeter who is rapidly establishing himself as one of the most exciting musicians on the London scene. James studied at the Royal Academy Jazz Course and received the prestigious Derek Watkins award for his performances. James is now an integeral part of the UK/ European jazz scene and now leads his own group featuring Jason Brown (NYC) , Tom Cawley and Conor Chaplin. To add to all of James’ achievements he has most recently finished a 2 month European tour with singer Joss Stone.


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