“Zappa was a master of irony and parody, he used any musical form he wished. Everything was possible. Through harmony, rhythm and theatre, he reached every corner of the globe employing some of the world’s most amazing musicians. His whole philosophy is sadly missing in today’s world”.Colin Towns
Frank Zappa’s Hot Licks (and funny smells)’ is not intended as a tribute to Frank Zappa but as a celebration of Frank Zappa the composer. With the emphasis being on Zappa’s wide ranging composing ability Colin Towns has brilliantly transferred the essence of the NDR Bigband, its soloists, as well as himself, into Zappa’s music. Appealing to jazz and rock fans alike, this is Colin Towns’ firework display and will be marked not only by the album release but by the first tour of his home country in 10 years.
With no comparable band in the UK, the unique and highly treasured NDR Bigband from Hamburg have worked with many great musicians including Wayne Shorter, Chet Baker, Albert Mangelsdorff and Vince Mendoza. Its programmes continually explore the constant changes in music, through new productions with forward looking musicians, expressing a vibrant view of music in the 21st Century. The band’s line-up reads like a big band wish-list, with soloists such as Nils Landgren, Christof Lauer, Claus Stötter and Vladyslav Sendecki and was recently referred to as the jazz equivalent of the Ensemble Modern.Colin Towns’ work for the NDR Bigband has been performed worldwide from China to the Chicago Jazz Festival where they were hailed by audience and critics as the outstanding success.
This partnership shows the results of a unique and powerful collaboration spanning 13 years. The unique and highly treasured NDR Bigband from Hamburg have worked with many great musicians including Wayne Shorter, Chet Baker, Albert Mangelsdorff and Vince Mendoza. Their programmes continually explore the constant changes in music, through new productions with forward looking musicians, returning a vibrant view of music in the 21st Century. The band is packed with soloists such as Nils Landgren, Christof Lauer, Claus Stötter and Vladyslav Sendecki and has recently been referred to as the jazz equivalent of the Ensemble Modern. The last time they performed in the UK was with Abdullah Ibrahim in 2002.
‘Lend me your Ears’ ,the new CD, features the entire band and covers a huge variety of contemporary writing (all original compositions by Colin Towns) for a large group: from middle eastern (Storyman) through to electronics (Lend me your Ears) to chamber pieces (Voyage around Vladyslav, a suite to highlight the incredible talents of pianist Vladyslav Sendecki). We have fun (Franks Big Boogie Machine); elegant beauty (A Kiss for Eternity); dance (Tango Teaser) and wildness (Ghost Train through the Chaos Theory). All with melodic twists and hooks that never alienate the listener.
Colin’s past albums with the NDR include 2001’s ‘The Theatre Of Kurt Weill’ that was released on ACT Records to major critical and commercial success. To date this project has been performed in many cities q including Hamburg, Berlin, Beijing and Bilbao. This Autumn a new work by Colin for the NDR Choir and bigband will be recorded. Colin also collaborated with the NDR on ‘Frank Zappa’s Hot Licks (And Funny Smells’) performing over 30 concerts in Germany where the CD has been released to rave reviews and extensive attention from the press. The album is released in the UK on September 4th and will tour here in November.
Work for other bigbands include a 2005 commission from the Hessischer Rundfunk Bigband in Frankfurt to arrange, record and perform ‘Birds of Fire’ the music of the Mahavishnu Orchestra featuring drummer Billy Cobham and touring Germany during January 2006. It will play at this November’s Berlin Jazz Festival where Jerry Goodman (violin for the Mahavishnu Orchestra) will also join them.
Colin has also arranged an album for the NDR Bigband and vocalist Norma Winstone entitled ‘It’s Later than you Think’ which was released in Germany earlier this year and is due for release in the UK on 4th September. Norma will also appear as part of the UK double bill tour in November, with Hot Licks (and funny smells).