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Six By Six

Artist: Paul Towndrow

Date of Release: 28/05/2007

Catalogue no: 1192

Label: Keywork Records

Price: £10

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Track Listing

No

 

Title

Duration

1

 

Big Hitter

4.58

2

 

Earth Scene (Part I)

3.05

3

 

Dr Jones Will Never Believe This

5.37

4

 

Protective Memory

7.21

5

 

Rostov

8.04

6

 

Crook Sludge

9.15

7

 

Across The Universe

7.13

8

 

Earth Scene (Part II)

3.00

 

 

 

 

 

Reviews

 

01/10/0007 Jazzwise - Duncan Heining

Paul Towndrow
Six By Six
****

Towndrow's debut for FMR, Colours, was a fine album though its shortcomings were also obvious. Six By Six, however, is the album, one just knew, Towndrow had in him. Everything about it - playing, writing, arrangements - is just right. There is a depth and integrity to this record that is quite remarkable. Towndrow knows his players well and writes with them in mind. This is evident on tracks like 'Protective Memory' where he sets the flugelhorn of MacNiven and tenor of Wiszniewski just beautifully. There's also a fabulous arrangemt of The Beatles' 'Across The Universe' which provides the perfect setting for Towndrow's soprano. Elsewhere, the sound the group achieves on 'Crook Sludge' is amazing - here and elsewhere they sound like a much larger ensemble. Towndrow's own playing, like on the opening 'Big Hitter', is fluid and full of ideas but at the same time there's a pleasing economy of style. As for Hamilton, Cosker and Janisch, this is a rhythm section rich in intelligence and yet muscular and virile as well. It's groups like this that make one so optimistic for the future of jazz.

 

07/08/0007 Ian Mann 24Dash.com

This new release from the young Scottish alto saxophonist appears on his own Keywork label and shows him building on the successes of the critically acclaimed albums "Colours" and "Out Of Town". He has also appeared and recorded with the sparky all Scottish saxophone quartet Brass Jaw. This time Towndrow has expanded his band from a quartet to a sextet. The title alludes to the fact that the album was recorded in a mere six hours in particularly difficult circumstances. A power cut meant that the studio had to be powered by a petrol driven emergency generator but listening to the music one would never have guessed. Towndrow makes reference to the incident in his (pardon the pun) illuminating liner notes. Pianist Steve Hamilton, bassist Michael Janisch and drummer Alyn Cosker remain from Towndrow's quartet and all appeared on "Out Of Town". They are joined here by tenor saxophonist Konrad Wiszniewski and by Tom MacNiven on trumpet and flugel.
The music is mainly the kind of bustling, energetic post bop that characterised "Out Of Town" but the expanded instrumental palette up gives Towndrow the opportunity to stretch his wings even further as a composer.
The opening track "Big Hitter" sets off at a cracking pace with racing horn lines and a furious rhythm courtesy of Hamilton (who also solos effectively), Janisch and the dynamic Cosker. Cosker's incendiary drumming is a feature of this track and the album as a whole. He is a spectacular player and is very much in demand.
Dense and rolling, "Earth Scene (Part 1)" owes something in compositional style to John Coltrane, with Cosker impressing in the Elvin Jones role.
"Dr Jones Will Never Believe This" is another high-octane work out with Wisniewski soloing in impassioned manner followed by Hamilton. The irrepressible Cosker enjoys some explosive drum breaks.
"Protective Memory" brings a welcome change of pace. This slow burning ballad features the warm, rounded tones of MacNiven on both trumpet and flugel, plus the rich sound of Janisch on arco bass.
"Rostov" is a dedication to the twinning of Glasgow with the Russian city of Rostov On Don. As a composition "Rostov" is ambitious in it's scope, combining drama with lyricism to impart a real cinematic quality. Solo highlights include Hamilton's flowing piano and the leader's probing alto but there is also some fine ensemble writing and playing.
"Crook Sludge" is an engaging funk tinged item with robust soloing from the horns above the insistent rhythms. MacNiven's slurred notes add a touch of the blues and Janisch's bass also comes to the fore.
Towndrow's adaptation of Lennon and McCartney's "Across The Universe" works surprisingly well. His treatment of the theme maintains the spirit and atmosphere of the original and bookends the more exploratory central section in which Hamilton's piano is prominent.
The welling and dramatic "Earth Scene Part 2" closes the album, an intriguing blend of free jazz tendencies with anthemic writing.
Towndrow is a remarkably gifted player with chops to burn and he has surrounded himself with similarly talented colleagues. He continues to mature as a writer contributing all the material here with the obvious exception of the Beatles item. Once again Paul Towndrow has delivered an excellent album that demonstrates the continuing strength of the Scottish jazz scene.

 

03/08/0007 John Fordham - The Guardian

Paul Towndrow is a young Scottish saxophonist, a protege of Tommy Smith; the Montreux festival marked him out as a rising young player. Six By Six is a hustling, sharply accented, horn-packed postbop set, with the players edgily inclined to push the envelope. Towndrow's slippery, free-jazz-influenced sax intonation contributes powerfully to this atmosphere, as does that formidable pianist Steve Hamilton and the explosive rhythm partnership of bassist Michael Janisch and drummer Alyn Cosker.

There are stormy Coltranesque pedal-note laments over wild drum tirades (such as the anthemic Earth Scene Part One), tender romantic reveries (with Tom MacNiven's soft trumpet sound enriching them) and riffy skeletal themes designed to be filled out by Cosker's remarkable drumming. Towndrow displays some attractively quirky, rather Dirty Dozen-like writing on the funk theme Crook Sludge, and in Across the Universe, a free-associative warmth suggestive of a Django Bates or Iain Ballamy melody. The presence of fellow Scottish-scene reedsman Konrad Wiszniewski adds to the general sense of creative animation.

 

01/07/0007 Kenny Mathieson - The Scotsman

PAUL TOWNDROW SEXTET: SIX BY SIX ****
KEYWORK RECORDS
ALTO saxophonist Paul Towndrow's sleeve note explains in amusing fashion the dilemma his excellent new sextet faced in recording this disc using a petrol-driven generator when the recording studio's power went down. There is little suggestion in the music that the band were working in difficult conditions under severe time pressure, except perhaps a distinctly spontaneous feel that is a positive bonus, and might have been lost in more relaxed conditions. Despite the title, there are actually eight tracks, since one of his six new compositions for sextet is split into two parts. The other "extra" is a quartet version of The Beatles' Across the Universe, a staple of their live set that he has not recorded before. Both writing and playing are top quality. Trumpeter Tom MacNiven and tenor saxophonist Konrad Wiszniewski add muscle and invention to the horn line-up, while Alyn Cosker is a galvanising force on drums.

 

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