Blue Touch Paper: Drawing Breath

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Blue Touch Paper
LABELS: Provocateur
ALBUM TITLE: Blue Touch Paper: Drawing Breath
WORKS: Drawing Breath
PERFORMER: Colin Towns (keyboards), Chris Montague (guitars), Mark Lockheart (saxophone), Edward Maclean (bass), Benny Greb (drums) etc


It would be convenient to describe Blue Touch Paper’s sound as ‘third stream’, the term coined by composer Gunther Schuller to mean a synthesis of classical music and jazz. But there’s even more to Blue Touch Paper than that. Drawing Breath, the sextet’s second album, has Joe Zawinul-style funk, tango themes, Moor-ish overtones and heavy metal deep in the mix as well. At times, it feels like there is a cast of thousands at work: reading, improvising, raging. That’s down to prog rocker turned film score writer Colin Towns, a protean composer/arranger with a terrific sense of musical theatre, whose chord charts channel his players’ energy into dizzying cross-currents of sound.

With Mark Lockheart’s curiously English sax lines strung across the production, however, jazz purists need not be nervous of wading into this turbulent third stream. They can simply go with the flow.


Garry Booth