Saxophonist Paul Towndrow is best known as a bandleader of ensembles ranging from duo to sextet. He is also one quarter of the in demand horn section four-piece Brass Jaw, and a member of Scotland’s flagship jazz orchestra, The SNJO. Performing professionally since the age of 15, and having spent his formative musical years studying on both sides of the Atlantic, Towndrow has become one the UK’s busiest musicians.
Paul has released five solo albums and has appeared as a sideman on many others. Much of his output is released on his own label, Keywork Records which was founded in 2005.
His live credentials include appearances with a diverse range of artists from jazz greats Branford Marsalis, Randy Brecker, and John Scofield, to Motown stars Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, and soul legend Ben E King.
Once described in The Guardian as “A turbo-charged amalgam of all your saxophone heroes”, Towndrow has toured and recorded extensively in the UK and abroad, both under his own-name projects and others, such as with sensational US group The Bad Plus, New York based pianist David Berkman, Venezualan piano virtuoso Leo Blanco, jazz vocalist Kurt Elling, and jazz legend Benny Golson. In 2008 he was selected to tour Europe as part of the new European Colours Jazz Orchestra, a project comprising top jazz musicians from all over Europe.
In 2002 he won The Peter Whittingham Jazz Award resulting in his debut album ‘Colours’, and in 2003, reached the final of The World Saxophone Competition at Montreux Jazz Festival, winning the Public Prize (most audience votes) following his performance with the Geri Allen Trio.
As composer and arranger, Towndrow has written for ensembles of all shapes and sizes including music for TV and radio and arranging commissions for the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra. He has also developed compositional work with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra as part of Serious Productions’ Air Time scheme. In 2013 he was commissioned to write music to celebrate 21 years of the London Jazz Festival. In 2014 he was commissioned to compose ‘Pro-Am’, his debut suite for double big band, to celebrate the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Outwith the jazz genre, Paul has appeared on record releases by Hue & Cry, Sharleen Spiteri, Labrinth, The Fratellis, Capercaillie, Isobel Campbell, Colin MacIntyre (Mull Historical Society) and many others.
He has performed and toured with a wide range of artists including Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, Ben E King, Average White Band, Jack Bruce, Texas, and others.
Orchestral experience includes performances with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Ireland’s RTE Concert Orchestra, and Scotland’s multi-award winning cross-genre Grit Orchestra.
One of Scotland’s foremost jazz educators, Paul lectures in Jazz Studies at The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. In 2008, he launched Jazz Futures, a performance platform and for aspiring young jazz musicians. The scheme was nominated for ‘Best New Project’ at the inaugural Scottish Jazz Awards. He has devised award winning workshops for Brass Jaw, including a sell-out Family Matinee at London’s Wigmore Hall. Paul is the Musical Director of community ensemble, Byres Road Big Band. He was the creator, and course director of Glasgow Jazz Summer School from 2007-2014. He remains committed to offer mentoring and guidance to young musicians whenever possible.
Paul teaches principal study and second study jazz saxophone and lecturing in jazz composition. He also leads the new RCS Juniors Jazz Programme.
“His album confirms the contemporary Scottish scene’s membership of the world league.”
4 Stars **** John Fordham, The Guardian
“It’s musicians like this that make one so optimistic for the future of jazz” – Jazzwise