Nowhere & Heaven

COMPOSERS: Colin Towns
LABELS: Provocateur
PERFORMER: Colin Towns’ Mask Orchestra Featuring Maria Pia De Vito (voc)
CATALOGUE NO: PVC 1013 (distr. SAM)

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The small club of diversified big thinkers – George Russell, Mike Gibbs and Mike Westbrook – has a new member. Such is the protean energy of British pianist/composer Colin Towns that in the coming six months forty film and TV productions will air his scores. And when not composing for the screen, he pounds the ivories for the heavy rock monster, Gillan.

Thankfully, the latter’s influences are absent from the 46-year-old’s latest works, one and a half hours of turbulent ‘third stream’ modern orchestral sounds. Although hand-brake tempo turns, grumbling ostinato brass phrasings and dazzling choruses show Towns to be a natural big band leader in the jazz idiom, it is the drama in his crossover arrangements which impress most.

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Vocalist Maria Pia De Vito’s operatic verse readings glow against his diaphanous harmonies. Meteoric soloing from sax and trumpet pierce vivid brass colouring and ensemble playing which is natural and confident. It is not easy to put together a 19-piece orchestra in these straitened times, so musicians and fans alike should be glad that Towns is around to refresh the big score genre. GB