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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



Keywork Records KWRCD 009



1. Heroes of Transit
2. Over the Fourth
3. Newology
4. The One
5. Made in 78
6. Quirkafleeg
7. Rosa
8. Together in Acoustic Dreams

Paul Towndrow – Alto sax, soprano sax
Paul Harrison - Fender Rhodes
Steve Hamilton - Acoustic piano, Fender Rhodes (on track 8)
Ryan Quigley – Trumpet
Mike Walker – Guitar
Mark Hodgson – Double bass
Alyn Cosker - Drums


The sleeve of this CD, the third by Scottish saxophonist Paul Towndrow, is disappointingly lacking in information, which is a pity as Towndrow has an impressive pedigree and is already making a significant contribution to the Scottish jazz scene. From his website I discovered that he studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston where one of his tutors was Joe Lovano. In 2003, Towndrow won the Public Prize (most audience votes) at the World Saxophone Competition at the Montreux Jazz Festival. He has played and arranged for Tommy Smith’s Scottish National Jazz Orchestra. Smith has evidently been an important influence on Towndrow’s career.

"Newology" comprises eight tracks, all but one being originals by Towndrow, and they are divided between a quartet line-up with the addition of trumpeter Ryan Quigley on two tracks and a more electronic-influenced group featuring fusion guitarist Mike Walker. There is no information on the sleeve as to who is playing on which track but it is evident (I hope!) from careful listening.

Of the three tracks with Walker and Harrison, I enjoyed most the catchy rhythms of Over The Fourth with Towndrow building a soaring alto solo over some vigorous drumming from Cosker. Walker, happily recovered from recent illness and injury, also contributes a pulsating solo.

The quartet, with Hamilton on piano, provides a more conventional sound and all four tracks are excellent. The title track is quirkily attractive with Towndrow stretching out to explore the whole range of his instrument with Coltrane-like intensity. The One is by Ryan Quigley, although he doesn’t feature on it. It’s a reflective piece with thoughtful contributions by Towndrow, Hamilton and bassist Hodgson. Quigley joins in with a fiery solo on the boppish Quirkafleeg, and Rosa again shows Towndrow’s ability to pen catchy themes. The CD ends with Towndrow in meditative mood switching to soprano with Walker on guitar and Hamilton now on Fender Rhodes.

On this evidence – especially on the quartet tracks – Paul Towndrow is well on the way to becoming a major force in Scotland and beyond as a jazz saxophonist and composer.

George Stacy

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