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Paul Towndrow

Alto Saxophonist/ Composer / Arranger / Educator

Other instruments : Soprano Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone, Flute, Whistles,Clarinet

​Saxophonist Paul Towndrow is best known as a bandleader of ensembles ranging from duo to sextet. From 2001-2021 he was a member of Scotland’s flagship jazz orchestra, The SNJO, before leaving the organisation to focus on solo pursuits. More recently he has worked as a composer and saxophonist for the groundbreaking Grit Orchestra. Performing professionally since the age of 15, and having spent his formative musical years studying on both sides of the Atlantic, Towndrow has become one the UK’s busiest musicians.

Paul has released six solo albums and has appeared as a sideman on many others. Much of his output is released on his own label, Keywork Records which was founded in 2005.

His live credentials include appearances with a diverse range of artists from jazz greats Branford Marsalis, Randy Brecker, and John Scofield, to Motown stars Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, soul legend Ben E King, and rock icons The Fratellis.

Once described in The Guardian as “A turbo-charged amalgam of all your saxophone heroes”, Towndrow has toured and recorded extensively in the UK and abroad, both under his own-name projects and others, such as with sensational US group The Bad Plus, New York based pianist David Berkman, Venezualan piano virtuoso Leo Blanco, jazz vocalist Kurt Elling, and jazz legend Benny Golson. In 2008 he was selected to tour Europe as part of the new European Colours Jazz Orchestra, a project comprising top jazz musicians from all over Europe.

In 2002 he won The Peter Whittingham Jazz Award resulting in his debut album ‘Colours’, and in 2003, reached the final of The World Saxophone Competition at Montreux Jazz Festival, winning the Public Prize (most audience votes) following his performance with the Geri Allen Trio.

As composer and arranger, Towndrow has written for ensembles of all shapes and sizes including music for TV and radio and arranging commissions for the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra. He has also developed compositional work with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra as part of Serious Productions' Air Time scheme. In 2013 he was commissioned to write music to celebrate 21 years of the London Jazz Festival. In 2014 he was commissioned to compose 'Pro-Am', his debut suite for double big band, to celebrate the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Towndrow was commissioned in 2018 to compose a new work for Glasgow's Festival 2018. The result was 'Deepening The River', a 60 minute work for extended multi-genre big band. 'Deepening The River' was subsequently included in the 2019 programme for Celtic Connections Festival, with a studio recording of the suite released in 2020, and subsequently longlisted for the 2021 Scottish Album of The Year Awards. In 2023 he received a commission to compose for string quartet Glisk, as part of a project entitled Stories Of People & Trees. 

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"I have been an admirer for some time of Paul's assertive style on alto and soprano saxophones and he leads a very integrated swinging quartet. He is an excellent representative of the superb Scottish jazz scene." Tony Dudley- Evans, UK jazz promoter "Paul Towndrow- write that name down because it's going to be a big one!" Humphrey Lyttleton, BBC Radio 2 "Towndrow broods on ballads with a smoky elegance and his precocious assurance suggests a 21st century Tommy Smith." John Fordham, The Guardian " Listening to Towndrow is an invigorating experience and he possesses a phenomenal technique....Towndrow's band follow his every move with intelligence and grace." Dave Gelly, The Observer


Album Discography

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson


Keywork Records


Six by Six

Self Produced




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