395

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

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Colin Towns & The NDR Big Band: John Lennon - In My Own Write 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 late The Beatles' songs were compositionally deeper than others, at the core of it all, Lennon's music was, after all, pop music—and in some cases, downright simple pop music at that.

That doesn't mean there's not plenty of grist for Towns to rework this collection of 21 tunes, collected from throughout Lennon's career, dating as far back as "Nowhere Man," from The Beatles' Rubber Soul (Capitol, 1965), to "Woman," from , Double Fantasy (Capitol, 1980), his last release before being tragically assassinated. What's most appealing about In My Own Write is Towns' ability to couch memorable melodies in stylistically unfettered arrangements. Even lesser-known songs like "What You Got," from 1974's Walls and Bridges (Capitol), seem part of some greater collective subconscious. Towns also grabs Lennon's first number one hit as a solo artist, "Whatever Gets You Through the Night," from the same album, here reworked with a vamp-based intro driven by British bassist Laurence Cottle in support of brief but powerful opening solos from bass trombonist Ingo Lahme and tenor saxophonist/British jazz elite Alan Skidmore.

Couched in imaginative and unexpected backdrops that demonstrate their refreshing distance from mundane "jazzin' up the pops," Towns' arrangements, instead, respect the material, but only insofar as it provides a starting point for the psychedelic brass band at the opening "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite," from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Capitol, 1967). An ethereally abstract "Give Peace a Chance," in its integration of sound designs including jet planes and spoken word indictments of present day aggressions, makes Lennon's iconic chant as relevant today as it was at the time of the Vietnam War.

Towns also draws unexpected lines between songs written years apart. The melody of "Jealous Guy," from Imagine (Capitol, 1971), is shared with the opening section of Sgt. Pepper's "A Day in the Life," here an even greater, tour de force than The Beatles' boundary-busting original, as Towns moves from ambling swing to collective improv and thematic consolidation into sheer chaos that shames the admittedly compelling original. Throughout, the NDR Big Band, driven by drummer Gary Husband's combination of firepower and subtlety, provides Towns the by-now-expected degree of interpretive acumen, lifting the notes off the pages to lend them rich, vivid and varied life. Unpredictable and unfailingly progressive, Towns' shift in source material only further proves his deftness at musical alchemy, turning Lennon's iconic pop songs into modern-day and forward-thinking gold.


Track Listing: CD1: Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite; Time Waits for No One; Come Together; Cold Turkey; Woman; Revolution; What You Got; Solar Wind; Across the Universe; Nowhere Man; Give Peace a Chance; Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds / I Want You (She's So Heavy). CD2: Whatever Gets You Through the Night; Jealous Guy; Slow Going; Tomorrow Never Knows; Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy); Strawberry Fields Forever; A Day in the Life; Imagine.

Personnel: Torstein Benkenstein: trumpet, flugelhorn; Ingolf Burkhardt: trumpet, flugelhorn; Stephan Meinberg: trumpet, flugelhorn; Reiner Winterschladen: trumpet, flugelhorn; Dan Gottschall: trombone; Klaus Heidenrich: trombone; Stefan Lottermann: trombone; Ingo Lahme: bass trombone, tuba; Flete Felsch: alto and soprano saxophones, flute, alto flute, bass flute, clarinet; Matthias Erlewein: alto and soprano saxophones, flute, clarinet; Alan Skidmore: tenor and soprano saxophones; Lutz Büchner: tenor and soprano saxophones, flute, clarinet; Frank Delle: baritone and tenor saxophones, bass clarinet; Roland Cabezas: guitar; Laurence Cottle: bass; Vladyslav Sendecki: piano; Gary Husband: drums; Marcio Doctor: percussion; Colin Towns: arranger, conductor, sound design (CD1#2, CD1#8, CD2#3). Substitutes: Michael Leuschner: trumpet ; Dirk Lentschat: trumpet; Sebastian Hoffmann: trombone; Sebastian Gille: tenor and soprano saxophones; Björn Berger: baritone saxophone.

Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Provocateur Records


Shop

More Articles

Read A Dark and Stormy Day CD/LP/Track Review A Dark and Stormy Day
by Dave Wayne
Published: March 1, 2017
Read Pocono Git-Down CD/LP/Track Review Pocono Git-Down
by Edward Blanco
Published: March 1, 2017
Read Rímur CD/LP/Track Review Rímur
by Henning Bolte
Published: March 1, 2017
Read Schönbrunn CD/LP/Track Review Schönbrunn
by Tyran Grillo
Published: March 1, 2017
Read Northern Adventures CD/LP/Track Review Northern Adventures
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 28, 2017
Read Collider CD/LP/Track Review Collider
by John Sharpe
Published: February 28, 2017
Read "Bambulaye" CD/LP/Track Review Bambulaye
by James Nadal
Published: March 10, 2016
Read "Rhythm and Romance" CD/LP/Track Review Rhythm and Romance
by Jeff Winbush
Published: August 12, 2016
Read "Right to Love" CD/LP/Track Review Right to Love
by Jim Olin
Published: June 19, 2016
Read "Floa" CD/LP/Track Review Floa
by Phil Barnes
Published: July 23, 2016
Read "Jojje Wadenius (70)" CD/LP/Track Review Jojje Wadenius (70)
by Chris Mosey
Published: November 9, 2016
Read "Suite Três Rios" CD/LP/Track Review Suite Três Rios
by Paul Naser
Published: July 29, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!