Andrew Downing is a Toronto based double bass player, cellist, composer and educator born in London, Ontario in 1973. He plays primarily in the creative jazz scene in Canada, but also performs classical chamber music, improvised music, folk and roots music, and world music. He practices the unusual craft of tuning his bass in fifths an octave lower than a cello. His teachers include Jack Winn, Dave Young, Don Thompson, Shauna Rolston and Joel Quarrington.
His own projects span a wide variety of styles and practices. Most recently, he has started a ‘quiet jazz’ ensemble of cello, alto saxophone, lap steel guitar, vibraphone, bass and drums called Otterville that released its first recording in the fall of 2016, which was nominated for a Juno Award. It was also on the Longer List for the 2017 Polaris Music Prize. Their second record Lovesome was recorded and released during the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020-2022. He also has a collaborative project 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 to critical acclaim. 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 his 7-piece chamber ensemble. He also leads his chamber-jazz ensemble Melodeon, which plays live scores for silent films such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Phantom of the Opera (with choir), Nosferatu Maciste in Hell, Impossible Voyage and The Shock.
As a composer, Andrew has written pieces for Nordic Folk group Ensemble Polaris, banjo player Jayme Stone, The Vancouver Bach Choir, Ensemble Meduse, Toca Loca, Ensemble Made In Canada and The Toronto Masque Theatre, and has written arrangements for Patricia O’Callaghan, The Gryphon Trio, The Annex Quartet, John Southworth and The Art of Time Ensemble.
He has won two Juno awards, one for his own recording Blow The House Down with his former group Great Uncles of the Revolution, and one with the Vancouver-based group Zubot and Dawson. He has also won two West Coast Music Awards, a Socan Award, and the Grand Prix de Jazz from the Montreal Jazz Festival.
Andrew currently teaches double bass, composition, jazz theory, jazz ear training and improvisation at the University of Toronto and has taught at Wilfred Laurier University, the Banff Centre’s Jazz Workshop and the Creative Music Workshop in Halifax.