Colin Towns: Rule Book? What Rule Book?
If there is another revolution in jazz brewing quietly or maybe lurking just around the corner, then for Towns it won't be looking towards the past for inspiration. "You can't live in the past," Towns states. "I don't want to. There's nothing wrong with wanting to go and see music from 30 or 40 years ago if that's what you want, but in terms of things growing, technology brings in changes, and you have to live with it and find your place. I take exception to [trumpeter] Wynton Marsalis on this point, because he looks backwards. I can look backwards and forwards, which makes complete sense to me. Unfortunately, because of the way things are structured in America, Wynton has a lot to say, too much to say, and he's not somebody I can personally look up to. The music has to change, and that's the nature of it."
One of the strengths of Blue Touch Paper is the complete lack of musical snobbery among the ranks, and Towns recognizes that jazz doesn't do itself any favors at all in that department. "Jazz kind of shoots itself in the foot by saying it belongs in the concert halls," he says. "That puts people off who should really be brought through the door. I say, 'Don't be frightened; it's fine.' I think that's the mountain we're all climbing.
"We're on a journey to explore," says Towns. "That's what I always thought. I'm at a point now where I really want to bring more of my own thoughts to fruition. I've spent my life balancing everything, and I want to push my own thing more." This sounds like good news for fans of Towns' incendiary new group, Blue Touch Paper, which he has every intention of carrying on with. "I'll make sure it has a longer life," he affirms. "I could certainly see three CDs. We are always going to treat it as special. We're not going to get into a situation where we don't want to be there. I need situations to write for, whether it be Mask or Blue Touch Paper. That's my way of getting through life," Towns says, adding through laughter, "I can't do anything else!"
Blue Touch Paper, Stand Well Back (Provocateur, 2011)
Bohuslan Big Band/Colin Towns/Nils Landgren, Don't Fence Me In (Provocateur, 2011)
Alan Skidmore's Ubizo, 50 Journeys (Provocateur, 2011)
Colin Towns & The NDR Big Band, John Lennon: In My Own Write (Provocateur, 2010)
Colin Towns & The HR Big Band, Visions of Miles: The Electric Period of Miles Davis (In + Out Records, 2009)
Colin Towns, Doc Martin (Provocateur, 2007)
Colin Towns/Billy Cobham/HR Big Band, Meeting of the Spirits: A Celebration of the Music of The Mahavishnu Orchestra (In + Out Records, 2006)
Norma Winstone with The NDR Big Band, It's Later Than You Think (Provocateur, 2006)
Colin Towns & The NDR Big Band, Lend Me Your Ears (Provocateur, 2006)
Colin Towns & The NDR Big Band, Frank Zappa's Hot Licks (and funny smells) (Provocateur, 2005)
Colin Towns Mask Orchestra, The Orpheus Suite (Provocateur, 2004)
Colin Towns Mask Orchestra, Another Think Coming (Provocateur, 2001)
Colin Towns & The NDR Big Band, The Theatre of Kurt Weill (ACT, 2000)
Chano Dominguez, Gerardo Nunez, Michael Brecker, JazzPana II (ACT, 2000)
Colin Towns' Mask Symphonic Featuring Norma Winstone & Maria Pia de Vito, Dreaming Man with Blue Suede Shoes (Provocateur, 1999)
Colin Towns' Mask Quintet with Maria Pia de Vito, Still Life (Provocateur, 1998)
Alan Skidmore, After The Rain (Miles Music, 1998)
Guy Barker, What Love Is (Emarcy, 1998)
Colin Towns' Mask Orchestra, Bolt From The Blue (Provocateur, 1997)
Colin Towns' Mask Orchestra, Nowhere & Heaven (Provocateur, 1996)
Gillan, Future Shock (Virgin, 1981)
Gillan, Mr. Universe (Acrobat, 1979)
Ian Gillan Band, Clear Air Turbulence (Island, 1977)