Saxophonist Paul Towndrow is best known as a bandleader of ensembles ranging from duo to sextet. Since 2001 he has been a member of Scotland’s flagship jazz orchestra, The SNJO, and more recently has worked as a composer and saxophonist for the groundbreaking Grit Orchestra.
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. Towndrow was commissioned in 2018 to compose a new work for Glasgow's Festival 2018. The result was 'Deepening The River', a 60 minute work for extended multi-genre big band. 'Deepening The River' was subsequently included in the 2019 programme for Celtic Connections Festival, with an studio recording of the suite set for release in mid-late 2019. In 2020 he premiered his first symphonic work 'Declaration' with the Grit Orchestra.
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