'twenty-first century voyageurs'
-Geoff Chapman of The Toronto Star
...(the music) represents Andrew Downing's courageous foray into his psyche where he obviously made notes on his experiences..."
-Tom Josepch, Quartet magazine
Andrew Downing is a double bass player, composer, bandleader and cellist living and working in the creative music community in Toronto. Called a “21st Century Voyageur” (Geoff Chapman, Toronto Star), Andrew finds himself in some of the more interesting cross-genre musical situations in the Canadian music scene.
His most recent musical project is a seven-piece chamber ensemble in which Andrew's cello is joined by Aleksandar Gajic (violin), Joe Phillips (double bass), Kevin Turcotte (trumpet), William Carn (trombone), Peter Lutek (bassoon and clarinet) and David Occhipinti (guitar). The group will be releasing a CD in April of 2010 called Silents which features music written to accompany the silent films The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Impossible Voyage. The album also enlists the help of Quinsin Nachoff (clarinet), Jesse Zubot (violin), Tania Gill (celeste, pump organ) and Mark Duggan. The group recently performed the score to Caligari as part of the NUMUS concert series in Waterloo, and will be performing at The Tranzac in Toronto in April to officially release the recording. His former group, Great Uncles of the Revolution, won him two West Coast Music Awards, The Grand Prix de Jazz from the Montreal Jazz Festival and a Juno Award for their second album Blow The House Down.
As a composer, Andrew's style is influenced by artists such as Igor Stravinsky, Duke Ellington, Olivier Messiaen, Bill Frisell and Charlie Haden with a healthy dose of country music, Turkish music, Jazz and The Blues. In addition to writing for his own group, he has composed or arranged music for The Prince George Symphony, The Art of Time Ensemble, Toca Loca, The Urban Arts Brass Ensemble and Runcible Spoon.
Andrew's double bass playing can be heard on over 200 recordings with jazz, folk, and world music ensembles such as David Occhipinti, Jim Lewis, Jean Martin, Zubot and Dawson, Kelly Joe Phelps, Ryan Driver, John Southworth, The Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band, Kiran Ahluwalia, Adrean Farrugia, The Wailin' Jennys and Patria O'Callaghan. He has performed live with such artists as Moe Koffman, Bob Moses, Mike Murley, David Tronzo and Jim Byrnes. He practices the unusual craft of tuning his double bass in fifths.
Andrew is currently teaching double bass, composition and improvisation at the University of Toronto, and also leads a unique student ensemble of jazz and classical students there. He has also taught at Wilfred Laurier University and The Banff Centre, and has done workshops and clinics at St. Francis Xavier University, Brandon University and Capilano College.
On the horizon, Andrew is planning to arrange music for his group to accompany some of his favourite singers in a wide variety of styles – John Southworth, Martin Tielli, Chris Coole, Patricia O'Callaghan, Christin Duncan and Ryan Driver – to be recorded and performed sometime in 2011.