Born in London in 1972, Neil Cowley grew up playing piano at an early age, winning a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music and performing classical pieces at London's Queen Elizabeth Hall at the age of just ten.
Influenced not only by classical musicians, but also by a diverse collection of artists including Frank Zappa, Erroll Garner, and James Brown, it wasn't long before Cowley's skills as a keyboardist would be in demand. As a session musician, he worked with the likes of the Brand New Heavies, Zero 7, the Pasadenas, and Gabrielle -- even making a foray into the world of psy-trance as one half of Green Nuns of the Revolution -- before eventually striking out on his own in 2006 with Evan Jenkins (drums) and Richard Sadler (bass) as the Neil Cowley Trio. The three-piece's first album, Displaced, was an aspiring piece of modern jazz that drew upon Cowley's background in soul and electronica; it cemented their place as an invigorating blast of fresh air within the jazz scene, and went on to win the 2007 BBC Jazz Awards' Album of the Year. The group's second album, Loud Louder Stop, was released in 2008, and with positive reviews for their successful bridging of contemporary jazz, rock, and pop, the trio headed out in support of the release with shows within the U.K., including the Glastonbury Festival. As a now-in-demand performer, Cowley turned down work as the go-to man for keyboards to focus on his trio, yet did provide Adele's debut album, 2008's 19, with his deft touch. Radio Silence, the trio's third album, came in 2009, and while the release stuck to Cowley's tried-and-tested style, the album's mix of jazz and rock still earned the trio praise. Returning to the studio for their fourth release, 2012's The Face of Mount Molehill, their revised lineup featured new bassist Rex Horan for the first time. Touring in support of the release, the trio played throughout Europe, including at the legendary Montreux Jazz Festival, with the show being released on CD and DVD in 2013. Touch and Flee, the group's fifth album, came in early 2014. Described as their "concert hall record," the release saw them explore new ground, delving into darker, deeper territory than ever before. The trio returned in 2016 with their sixth studio album, Spacebound Apes. ~ Rich Wilson, Rovi