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Brass Jaw

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Reviews of Brass Jaw

 

23/07/0006 Ken Mathieson, The Scotsman

BRASS JAW: BURN ****

SAXOPHONE quartets are still thin on the ground in jazz, and present
considerable challenges to the players in simultaneously taking care of melody, harmony and rhythm on four essentially similar single-line
instruments. The quartet of Paul Towndrow and Martin Kershaw on altos,Brian Molley on tenor, and Allon Beauvoisin on baritone cope with all of them, and their attractive arrangements and sharp-edged interplay bring the music vividly alive. The material is mostly self-composed, with the exception of Gershwin's Our Love is Here to Stay and Towndrow's arrangement of the Police's Walking on the Moon.

 

29/11/0005 Rob Adams, The Herald

The saxophone quartet is no longer a new concept in jazz and its trailblazers pretty much defined what can be done with the format. So once you've added a touch of formation choreography, you really have to make it on musical interest and Brass Jaw does just that.
Paul Towndrow and Martin Kershaw (altos), Brian Molley (tenor) and Allon Beauvoisin (baritone and announcements) pay homage to their forebears, including an opening, funky-fervent walk-on courtesy of New York's 29th Street Saxophone Quartet and a rather more involved tangle of bebop and beyond from London's Itchy Fingers. But they have plenty of ideas of their own.
These materialise both in original compositions and inspired transcriptions and/or arrangements of tunes from the jazz and pop canons. Introduced as something that takes four men with saxophones to do what one woman did with a guitar, the late Emily Remler's setting of Afro Blue was indeed a tribute to singular fretboard vision, all rich chords and intricately executed lines.
It's the quality of sound as much as the well-plotted strategies, the sense of mischief and variety as well as cleverness cleverness, that is, without being too cute that make Brass Jaw work so well.
They riff and hustle with the groovy pep of James Brown's horn section or lay out lush voicings that sound more like an orchestra than a quartet. They mix solo features of considerable virtuosity with keen ensemble understanding and they slip into The Police's Walking on the Moon and Spanish-Cuban fantasies with the same ease and aplomb as they do jazz standards.
Above all, they communicate a feeling of enjoyment alongside the passion, a good time that travels freely from stage to audience.

 

10/11/0005 Alan Joyce, Nottingham Evening Post

This quartet of highly accomplished Scottish saxophonists played a programme full of intrigue and surprise, brought about by their skilful application of Dynamics, steadfast discipline, attention to detail ans superb musicianship.
Brass Jaw featured Martin Kershaw and Paul Towndrow on Alto Saxes, Brian Molley, Tenor, and Allon Beauvoisin Baritone.
They played intricate arrangements of jazz standards, mixed with original compositions. These were melodic, if at times ambitious, and many had an infectious rhythm, powered by Beauvoisin's sonorous baritone.
The Altos were well matched in terms of tone, agility and ability, while Molley's Tenor sound ranged from rich and creamy to plaintive and passionate.
Towndrow penned many of the originals. Among the high spots were his gorgeous arrangement of Premiere and Beauvoisin's bop-inspired Close Call, involving a fanscinating three way conversation between the two Alto's and tenor with Baritone.

 

09/02/0005 James Griffiths, The Guardian

While there are many examples of the saxophone quartet in jazz history, it's relatively rare on the contemporary British scene. Watching the Brass Jaw Saxophone Quartet - it isn't difficult to see why. Without a rhythm section the task of making everything swing is shared by everyone, and solos must be extremely focused. The Brass Jaw boys generally do a brilliant job, packing their performance with an impressive amount of detail while achieving an extremely classy sound.

They began by trooping through the audience, spinning delicate contrapuntal melodies. Taking it in turns to produce drone notes and fluttering harmonies, they reached the stage and launched into a hard swinging number anchored by Allon Beauvoisin's honking baritone. The group quickly set out their individual wares, Brian Molley's tenor providing bluesy grit, Martin Kershaw's alto quirky humour. Also on alto, Paul Towndrow was the biggest show-off, launching immediately into Wayne Shorter territory with a mercurial torrent of notes.

Drenched in sweat after only one tune, Beauvoisin introduced a piece by one of the group's chief influences, the New York 29th-Street Saxophone Quartet. The Nasty is apparently a Mount Everest for any sax ensemble, full of Mingus-like pandemonium. There were head-frying passages of contrary motion and car-horn parps arranged into barrages of funky riffs. The momentum was sustained through a Charlie Parker-ish reading of Walking On the Moon, and a shrieking Beauvoisin original dedicated to the horrors of painkiller withdrawal.

Altogether, an accomplished and ambitious ensemble who aren't afraid to enjoy themselves.

 

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