There's nothing mild or meek about Scottish saxophonist Paul Towndrow. The young reedman approaches improvisation with a go-for-broke assuredness. Six by Six finds Towndrow leading a powerhouse sextet performing a set of original mainstream jazz.
Towndrow composes edgy tunes with enough lush harmony to keep band-mates challenged and listeners curious. The disc's explosive opener, "Big Hitter," and "Rostov," a contrapuntal-laden straight-eighth groove, serve as stand-out tracks. Other tunes, such as the second-line influenced "Crook Sludge," come across as well-intended but slightly over-composed.
The disc's supporting members seem to share in the leader's aggressive leanings. Drummer Alyn Cosker is an Elvin Jones-inspired hurricane behind the kit. His bombastic accompaniment on "Earth Scene (Part 1)," and powerful samba-to-swing groove on "Dr Jones Will Never Believe This" pushes otherwise ordinary writing into the realm of inspiration. Bassist Michael Janisch plays the role of tireless work-horse with glorious sound and intonation. His crisp arco work on "Protective Memory" is a lyrical high-point of the session. Pianist Steve Hamilton comps with sensitivity and conviction. Tenor saxophonist Konrad Wiszniewski and trumpeter Tom MacNiven, both dynamic soloists, are given plenty of opportunities to stretch out.
Six by Six contains moments of musicality that are utterly thrilling. Towndrow proves himself a performer of immense talent, and if you can get past his absurd menacing scowl on the front cover you'll discover some very energetic jazz performed by a boisterous ensemble.
Track Listing: Big Hitter; Earth Scene (Part 1); Dr Jones Will Never Believe This; Protective Memory; Rostov; Crook Sludge; Across the Universe; Earth Scene (Part II).
Personnel: Paul Towndrow: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute; Konrad Wiszniewski: tenor saxophone; Tom MacNiven: trumpet, flugelhorn; Steve Hamilton: piano; Alyn Cosker: drums; Michael Janisch: bass.