Colin Towns & NDR Big Band - album review (4 stars)

Colin Towns & NDR Big Band

Frank Zappa’s Hot Licks (and Funny Smells) (Rent a Dog Records)


Recorded live at the Moers Jazz Festival and released simultaneously with Lend Me Your Ears, a fine studio album of Towns’ own compositions also featuring the NDR Big Band, this exuberant disc celebrates Zappa’s idiosyncratic music while retaining the stamp of Towns’ own distinctive compositional and arranging style.

Towns directs the superb German band (with Stephan Diez prominently featured on guitar) rather than his own Mask Orchestra, and they produce sublime playing on an eclectic programme of classic Zappa compositions drawn from a range of albums, including Hot Rats, Uncle Meat, The Grand Wazoo and Jazz From Hell. Forget any preconceptions about big bands being old-fashioned ?" this is vibrant, contemporary music, and great fun into the bargain.

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