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INTERVIEWS

Colin Towns: Rule Book? What Rule Book?

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Since the 1970s, internationally renowned English composer/arranger/pianist/keyboard player Colin Towns has enjoyed an extremely varied musical existence. In that time, he has composed and arranged music in just about every setting imaginable, from heavy rock groups to jazz ensembles both small and large, and from theater to film and ballet. Little wonder, then, that his first small-ensemble outing in years, Stand Well Back (Provocateur Records, 2011), from his latest group, Blue Touch Paper, shows such breadth of musical influences. Starting from the foundations of his habitually dramatic compositional frameworks, Stand Well Back draws from rock, jazz, fusion, electronica, pop and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bohuslan Big Band: Don't Fence Me In

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Some of the finest compositions in The Great American Songbook, one of Europe's most talented big bands and one of the best arrangers Britain has produced. Put them all together on one CD, and it doesn't disappoint. The Cole Porter songs on Don't Fence Me In are among the most familiar in popular music, but while the Bohuslän Big Band's versions, arranged by Colin Towns, are instantly recognizable they are also innovative and exciting. Nils Landgren, the Artistic Director of Sweden's Bohuslän Big Band, is a superb trombone stylist: by turns lush and romantic, or full-blooded and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Colin Towns & The NDR Big Band: John Lennon - In My Own Write

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Since 2005, British arranger/conductor Colin Towns has trawled the discographies of Frank Zappa, Mahavishnu Orchestra and Miles Davis for collaborative potential with Germany's NBR Big Band. In every case--most recently, on Visions of Miles (In + Out, 2009)--the focus was on source material in and around the jazz sphere, with plenty of built-in grist for Towns' soaring imagination to run rampant, blending vibrant and oftentimes complex charts with soloists capable of marrying form, freedom, and the fuzzy space in between. All of which makes the success of John Lennon--In My Own Write all the more remarkable; while some of the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Colin Towns / HR-BigBand: Visions of Miles: The Electric Period of Miles Davis

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With the 2009 release of the 70-CD The Complete Columbia Album Collection, attention continues to focus on the late Miles Davis, a trumpeter who may have had equals or betters in the technical department, but was unparalleled in terms of relentless reinvention. It's gratifying to find an increasing number of tributes to Davis' post-1968 electric era--ranging from the ambient washes of In a Silent Way and denser Bitches Brew (both from 1969) to the jungle funk of Agharta (1975) and the more accessible 1980s when he released his hit Tutu (1986) and equally funky Amandla (1989) (both on Warner Bros, ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Billy Cobham/Colin Towns/hr-Bigband: Meeting Of The Spirits: A Celebration Of The Mahavishnu Orchestra

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Billy Cobham/Colin Towns/hr-Bigband Meeting Of The Spirits: A Celebration Of The Mahavishnu Orchestra In + Out Records 2006

There's been a rush of Mahavishnu Orchestra related projects during the last two years. First there was Mahavishnu keyboardist Jan Hammer playing Mahavishnu music with guitarist Jeff Beck in Europe. Then there was the Jeff Richman-produced tribute album, Visions Of An Inner Mounting Apocalypse. There is the ongoing success of the Mahavishnu Project band and its VishnuFest. And just this month, Hammer shows up on the new album from drummer Billy Cobham. ...



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