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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

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NDR Big Band-Colin Towns

Provocateur Records PVC1038


  1. Sound Bites
  2. Tango Teaser
  3. Miss Demeanour
  4. Storyman

Voyage Around Vladyslav
5. Hemingway
6. Creole Cat Call
7. Bird of Prey
8. Song of the Curlew
9. Dancer with Bad Lipstick
10. Quiet Thoughts
11. Blue Period
12. Quiet Visionary
13. Franks Big Boogie Machine
14. A Kiss For Eternity
15. Blues for Another Time
16. Lend Me Your Ears
17. Ghost Train Through The Chaos Theory

The elegantly designed and produced sleeve of this CD tells you nothing at all about what you are about to hear. Sure, it tells you who plays on which track and where and when it was recorded and mixed, but absolutely nothing about the NDR Big Band, Colin Towns or the musical programme!

Colin Towns is of course an amazing arranger and composer of music for the Theatre, Cinema, TV, Radio and regularly performs concerts with his own large orchestra, he is based in the UK. but his various work takes him all over the globe.

The NDR Big Band is based in Hamburg, Germany, it is akin to the Lincoln Centre Orchestra in the USA, in that it has performed tours with the music of many jazz and swing favourites, Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington would be just two examples. The musicians are world class, but as the vast majority of names would be unknown to a UK listener, I have not listed them. These guys are top men and they could hold their chair in any band, anywhere.

What you want to know now, is does this combination of Towns and the NDR Big Band work, my humble opinion is that mostly it does, the music is complex but very interesting. There are some moments of the ‘awful squawking’ that contemporary composers seem to need to put into every recording somewhere, but not too many.

What I found interesting was the variety of moods Colin has created in different parts of the album, Middle Eastern, Electronics, Chamber Pieces, Fun, Elegance, Dance and even Chaos (Last track). These difficult pieces are all performed to the highest standard by this excellent orchestra.

I am not a great fan of much contemporary Big Band music, but I like this album and recommend it to all. What a shame the BBC does not see fit to broadcast TV shows of musicians of this calibre, what a treat it would be!

Don Mather

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