Jazz Quartet Brass Jaw 606 Club Chelsea Live Music Jazz LondonGETTING TO KNOW YOU: PAUL TOWNDROW OF BRASS JAW

Brass Jaw
Monday July 15 | 8:30pm | £12


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BRASS JAW is a unique and highly engaging band that have been making waves within the UK jazz scene ever since they were named 'Ensemble of The Year' at the prestigious 2011 Parliamentary Jazz Awards followed by 'Contemporary Band of The Year' and ‘Album of The Year' at the 2011 Scottish Jazz Awards. Performing without a traditional rhythm section they use a versatile four-horn approach to create a layered sound rooted deeply in the jazz tradition, while also exploring exciting new musical territory. To date the band has produced three albums, "Burn" (2006), "Deal with It" (2009) and “Branded” released in 2010 to enthusiastic critical acclaim - “Branded is full of powerful, affecting, superbly played music” (All About Jazz). Their latest CD, "Minted" will be released on August 31 (link to a free downloadable track). Originally the brainchild of baritone sax player Allon Beauvoisin, the band features Paul Towndrow on alto saxophone and Konrad Wiszniewski on tenor saxophone with the line-up completed by Ryan Quigley on trumpet. For anyone interested in the future of modern jazz this is a night not to miss.

“Proving that Jazz can be funky, intelligent and riotously entertaining” Jazz UK
“Their consistently clever arrangements and compositions are both brilliantly conceived and succinct, with nothing outstaying its welcome” The Scotsman


What was the inspiration for Brass Jaw?

Brass Jaw was formed in 2003, and was originally a saxophone quartet. The band went through various personnel changes until we decided to break away from the 'sax only' rule by adding Ryan Quigley on trumpet. This gave us a whole new range of ensemble sounds, and the group really took off from there.

Why three saxes and a trumpet, and what particular challenges/opportunities do you face musically when writing or arranging material for this configuration?

Brass Jaw's instrumentation is, as far as we know, unique to the world of jazz. For this reason it's necessary for us to arrange all our own music as pre existing arrangements aren't available. We have a lot of ground to cover harmonically and rhythmically when we write and when we improvise, and spreading this effectively through the ensemble is challenging, but great fun.

Why no rhythm section, is there a shortage of qualified bassists/drummers in Scotland?

The lack of rhythm section is definitely not a reflection on either the quality or quantity of rhythm section players in Scotland. In fact we all play in numerous other projects which feature some of these great players.

The band was recognised as Ensemble of the Year at the 2011 APPJAG's and also won Album and Contemporary Band of the Year at the Scottish Jazz Awards. What is it about Brass Jaw in your opinion that has connected with audiences and critics?

I think the fact that we are a bit different from 'regular' jazz ensembles catches the attention of audiences. We also have a great deal of fun when we perform, and although we are often playing some quite full on contemporary music, we try to play with respect to the great tradition of the music. We also work very hard to try and make the experience of touring more than just turning up, doing the gig, then going back to the hotel. For us making music should be about embracing the community which you are visiting, and making it a much more inclusive experience. For us this means workshops, audience Q&A sessions, outreach visits to schools and all sorts of other things that eschew the barriers that musicians often hide behind.

Do you think of Brass Jaw as a jazz band? What is jazz anyway?

Yes. Brass Jaw is a jazz ensemble because the type of music we play is jazz. That seems like a simple answer but one of the great things about jazz is that it is, as musical genres go, very clearly definable and has a succinct and very well recorded historical lineage. It is almost always immediately apparent when hearing musicians improvise, whether or not they have developed their language out of the jazz tradition.

Tell us a bit about the Scottish music scene, and do you think that being Scottish has had a specific influence on your sound?

Being Scottish in itself probably hasn't influenced our sound directly, and although we are all fans of Celtic folk music, our upbringing was primarily through the jazz scene. That scene itself however, is important to us and how we have developed as musicians. When we were youngsters the jazz education scene in Scotland was still at a formative stage, but it was through the hard work of a small number of jazz enthusiasts that a big band was formed at Strathclyde Arts Centre. The members of Brass Jaw all played in this band in the mid 1990s and we developed our knowledge and appreciation for jazz by learning together in this environment. Sadly the arts centre is no more, but in its place is a fantastic and well established jazz education infrastructure which provides young musicians a great opportunity to learn jazz without having to leave the country.

What other bands/artists are the members of Brass Jaw listening to now?

There are loads of great bands/artists in the UK alone. We've particularly been enjoying some of the great music that's been coming out of Mike Janisch's Whirlwind label over the last few years. Then there are great young bands like Troyka and Phronesis who have great things to say. There's certainly no shortage of great stuff to listen to.

There's so much music out there these days, the problem is how to find things you like. How do you discover new music and keep up on what's current?

It's certainly not a problem for us! Sure, the way in which we share and consume music means that there sometimes seems like too much choice, but we've found that social media is a great way of tuning into great music. It's possible to find something new and exciting every single day, and its never been easier to be able to access the cutting edge of music. It really is an exciting time to be a musician AND a listener.

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