Paul Towndrow

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Reviews of Paul Towndrow


01/09/2005 Jazz UK

Paul Towndrow, in his own words, grew up listening to Tommy Smith, and not surprisingly has himself developed into a talented saxophonist whose alto and soprano playing on ‘Out of Town’ bursts with ideas. Steve Hamilton and Alyn Cosker are on hand here too, plus bassist Michael Janisch, and the whole group supports Towndrow’s tantalising slow-build skills - ‘Signs of Life’, opening with a gentle Hamilton intro, is a good example. An impressive second album from a player who is rapidly becoming an outstanding voice.


01/08/2005 Jazzwise

Paul Towndrow - Out of Town - Keywork Records - KWRCD006 - ****Paul Towndrow's second CD also marks the launch of his own record label, and confirms the strong progress that the saxophonist has been making since emerging on the UK jazz scene. His passionate and inventive playing on both alto and soprano provides evidence of an increasing authority on his instruments and command of his material, as well as underlining his development as a composer. All of the material on the disc is his own - the bulk are intricate up-tempo compositions with sinuous themes and tricky changes ('Tricky Trev' has an odd horn effect that might make you think your CD player has stuck), with 'Cryogenics' and the opening section of 'Trivia' offering a change of pace and mood. The band rise to these challenges in fine style, and he receives excellent support from Steve Hamilton on piano, London-based American bassist Michael Janisch, and Scotland's most in demand young drummer, Alyn cosker. One of Towndrow's most significant role models, Tommy Smith handled the engineering and mixing duties for the session at his own studio.


01/07/2005 Jazz Views (Nick Lea)

To follow up an impressive debut album with an equally impressive second album is no bad career move, and this Paul Towndrow has successfully negotiated with Out Of Town, released on his own newly formed Keywork Records. If its predecessor Colours came hot on the heels of his success at the World Saxophone Competiton and the publicity surrounding it, this latest album has no such props to fall back on and therefore must stand or fall purely on its own merits.
One of the major steps that Towndrow has taken is to record exclusively his own compositions for his new disc,and this has helped in providing an identifiable and unifying context for the set. His ballad writing is featured on two numbers, 'Signs Of Life' and 'Cyrogenics' where he digs out his soprano saxophone for some beautiful interplay with Hamilton's piano (especially on 'Cyrogenics'), but it his alto playing that really marks him out as an exciting talent.
Not shy of acknowledging his influences, his nod to fellow Scot, Tommy Smith (Towndrow makes no apologies when stating how much the tenorist has helped and encouraged him along the way) are plain to hear, along with John Coltrane who again Paul has listened to and studied in depth. For this reviewer, the debt to Coltrane has been filtered down through other players, and I can detect an empathy with the American altoist, Kenny Garrett in trying to absorb the influence of Trane into their own sound on the smaller horn, and within their own musical contexts.
Like Garrett, Towndrow creates a restless energy on the uptempo pieces that blur into fast multi-noted runs (check out 'Say As I Do') that suggest not musical cul de sacs but unlimitled avenues for further expression. 'High Point' is just that, with Towndrow's alto finding a path through his composition that allows unhurried grace in a solo that is effective and quite breathtaking. This is immediately followed by 'Trivia' that is anything but trivial, with another Towndrow slow burner with the opening theme stated by alto and the arco bass of Janisch, and once again some wonderful playing from Steve Hamilton.
And talking of whom...the rhythm section on this disc really gel together. Hamilton will be familiar to many from his work with Tommy Smith latest quartet and also from his stint with Bill Bruford's Earthworks, and can conjure up a storm or quiet introspection as in his accompaniment and solos as the music dictates. Two newer names to me thought are Janisch and Alyn Cosker who again play supremely well. Michael Janisch gets several excellent solos, and as mentioned before, his work with the bow is a delight. Drummer, Cosker, really likes to turn up the heat, and even on the ballads will make his presence felt. That said, his sense of drive and group dynamic is well paced and for all his energy his playing does manage to leave plenty of breathing space for his colleagues.
This is a disc well worth checking out from a young man who has a long and promising career ahead of him. It is also a refreshing and pleasing thought when listening to this CD that as time progresses he will only get better, and that we can therefore expect more exciting music in the years ahead.


11/06/2005 The Herald (Rob Adams)

Paul Towndrow
Out of Town
Saxophonist Paul Towndrow has followed his mentor and Scottish National Jazz Orchestra leader Tommy Smith in forming his own label to release his second album.

Towndrow also shares pianist Steve Hamilton and drummer Alyn Cosker with Smith’s quartet. Although Smith’s presence is felt here, this is Towndrow’s statement, showing a range of moods from the dark Trivia through the business-like High Point, Tricky Trev’s humour, and a thoughtful Cryogenics to East Wall Base’s catchiness.

Towndrow’s melodic approach on alto and soprano – with fiery and vulnerable tendencies – and his rhythm section’s assured, decisive playing combine to create a cohesive set that rewards repeated listening.


10/06/2005 The Scotsman (Kenny Mathieson)

THE release of saxophonist Paul Towndrow's second album fulfils the promise of its predecessor in fine style, and marks the launch of his own record label.
This alto saxophonist has already established himself as one of the distinctive new voices in Scottish jazz, and his passionate and inventive playing here will simply add greater authority to his claim on that position.
The eight new tunes that make up this disc demonstrate that he continues to develop as a composer as well, and he receives excellent support from Steve Hamilton on piano, Michael Janisch playing bass and Alyn Cosker on drums.


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.


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