Just an alto saxophone and a grand piano, a bunch of original tunes from each of the players and few choice ones from Jackie McLean, Charles Ives, John Scofield and Bela Bartok – sometimes keeping it simple is what works the best.
Not that the music is simplistic! Towndrow and Hamilton have rich musical knowledge and well-honed personal sounds to explore but they do so with a light touch and a clear focus on direct communication. A lot has gone into their playing of these tunes but there is a relaxed elegance to the whole affair which makes it very easy to listen to.
Hamilton can draw on all manner of styles from jazz piano’s history, one minute exploring thoroughly modern harmony in a solo, the next throwing in a hint of stride; Towndrow has one of the loveliest alto tones I know, his fluency is awe-inspiring and the little Celtic twists he occasionally adds to the melodic line are perfectly judged.
There might be just two instruments but the wide-range of the programme and its moods mean things never get tedious.
The title comes from philosopher and general Zen-linked good guy Alan Watts: “You don’t have to know how to shine the sun. You just do it. Like you breathe.” It’s a thoroughly apt description of how Towndrow and Hamilton sound – as natural as breathing. And as fundamental for living, too.
- The duo is currently touring and arrive in Birmingham this afternoon for a performance at The Red Lion in Digbeth this evening, courtesy of Birmingham Jazz. Full details are HERE.
Categories: CD review