Photography by Maria Alzamora


Intense and fearless…the strong musical relationship between these three leading young jazz musicians allows them to delve deep into improvisation, with beautiful original melodies and fascinating rhythmic structures….
Ilkley Jazz Festival

In something of a crowded market, the young piano trio Treppenwitz is making a fresh new case for the medium, with an ensemble sound and historical awareness that both builds upon and ignores what has come before. Their performance at mjf 2017 captivated the audience with its reflective miniatures and extended investigations into sound, not afraid of lyrical melodies – nor of avoiding them. It’s a band that will surely blossom over the coming years.
Steve Mead, Manchester Jazz Festival


Long bio


Treppenwitz, n. – treppen (stairs) + witz (wit) An event or fact that seems to contradict its background or context.

Matthew Aplin – piano
Tom Riviere – double bass
Steve Hanley – drums

Treppenwitz is a project with a unique approach to improvised music. The central philosophy is that all music is related, outgrowths from the same seed; passages of explorative beauty and space sit alongside energetic bursts of freedom. Compositions are contributed by the members, with something open-ended deliberately in mind; the shapes and contours of the music develop organically, different every time, always seeking.

The band was formed in January 2014 after (though not because) a Philadelphian drummer, Matthew McGraw, left the city of Leeds. The music they make can be seen as an indirect response to this change of circumstance. With time and curiosity and willing at their disposal, they started to explore music from the free jazz movements of the 1960’s, with a view to carving out an original voice through the nuances of the idiom; their heroes were Ornette Coleman, Eric Dolphy and Paul Bley. Leeds was a place where a lot of people were making things happen on a grassroots basis, and situated within this vibrant milieu, they were well placed to start gigging, coming to form part of the fabric of the DIY music scene. Gradually they transitioned to playing exclusively original music.

In 2015, they were approached by New Jazz Records, a not-for-profit collective run by local musicians, to record an album at Leeds Fold Studio. That November, they spent 2 days in the studio, recording more than 3 hours of music. Their first album, Short+Long Ditties, released in 2016 by New Jazz Records, was compiled from these fruitful sessions.

Their first album released, and with generous support from Arts Council England and Jazz North, they toured the UK relentlessly, and the world started to hear their music. Through this process of continuous playing, the music developed rapidly, and the collective dynamic between them evolved to levels previously unimaginable. The sound kept changing, and they kept writing new music.

Recent engagements have included The Vortex, London; Jazz at the Lescar, Sheffield; The Canteen, Bristol; Manchester Jazz Festival; and many others.

In 2018, they were selected for Jazz North’s “Northern Line” touring support scheme.

Their second album, The Kennedys at Beaver Point, was released by New Jazz Records in January 2019.

Their third album, sister in kith, was released by Discus Music in February 2021.