Paul Towndrow Sextet

Jazz Centre at The Lot, Edinburgh, Thu 7 Jun; City Halls, Glasgow, Fri 8 Jun; Inverclyde Sports Centre, Largs, Sun 10 Jun

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Saxophonist Paul Towndrow has spent the best part of two years working toward this Tune Up tour with his new Sextet, and had always factored a simultaneous album release into the equation. When the band rolled up to the recording studio near Edinburgh earlier this year, however, fate almost threw a serious spanner into the works.

Storm damage meant that there was no power for their scheduled session, a disaster only averted when they managed to borrow a small petrol-driven generator from a neighbour, and succeeded in squeezing in a six-hour session, during which they recorded the entire album, Six by Six. Paul can laugh about it now, but it didn’t seem funny at the time.

‘It certainly didn’t, but it’s a good story once it had worked out okay, and I’m looking at it positively. The sense of urgency really gave us focus, and very often the optimum energy is in the first couple of takes anyway. I think if we had had the original two days we might not have gotten anything much better or even as good.’

The Sextet began this tour with several dates in the Highlands, and should be well played in by now. The band is one that he has been eager to put together for some time, and adds fellow-Scottish National Jazz Orchestra mainstays Tom McNiven (trumpet) and Konrad Wiszniewski (tenor sax) to his established quartet with Steve Hamilton (piano), Michael Janisch (bass) and Alyn Cosker (drums).

‘I had two main aims with it. The first was specifically to bring these two players into the band, and the second was to give me more possibilities for new writing. I’ve tried not to over-compose the material, but to retain the kind of spontaneous feel we have with the quartet, and augment it with some different colours and possibilities.’

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