John Lennon – In My Own Write (Provocateur Records)

Colin Towns & NDR Big Band

Released November 5, 2010

The Guardian Best Jazz Albums for 2010




Hardly any big band program to date has been so private for Colin Towns. When he was a teenager, even the Beatles had no place on his turntable; The popular jazz of those years was at home there. Decades later, he sees John Lennon’s genius. He wanted to face Lennon and the Beatles with the musicians of the NDR Big Band. They’ve gone along with it and make “In my own write” sound more adventurous than anything else in a long time – especially in the juxtaposition of those motifs that practically everyone will recognize and the new paths that the orchestra takes from these fixed points. Behind Lennon’s horizon, a new one always appears – even three decades after his death. Towns’s busy spirit, as the musicians of the NDR Big Band prove with these recordings, is still very much alive.

Track Listing:

CD 1

1. Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite 7:20

2. Time Waits For No One 2:27

3. Come Together 4:46

4. Cold Turkey 6:22

5. Woman 3:57

6. Revolution 9:18

7. What You Got 6:44

8. Solar Wind 3:16

9. Across The Universe 6:15

10. Nowhere Man 5:39

11. Give Peace A Chance 11:20

12. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds/I Want You (She’s So Heavy) 7:34

CD 2

1. Whatever Gets You Through The Night 5:28

2. Jealous Guy 4:39

3. Slow Going 3:24

4. Tomorrow Never Knows 4:09

5. Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy) 4:54

6. Strawberry Fields Forever 7:03

7. A Day In The Life 13:23

8. Imagine 9:24


Colin Towns & the NDR Big Band

1. Thorsten Benkenstein,
2. Ingolf Burkhardt,
3. Stephan Meinberg,
4. Reiner Winterschladen
Substitutes: Michael Leuschner, Dirk Lentschat

1. Dan Gottshall,
2. Klaus Heidenreich,
3. Stefand Lottermann,
4. Ingo Lahme (bass trombone)
Substitutes: Sebastian Hoffmann

Fiete Felsch (1st alto/soprano saxophones, flute, alto/bass flutes, clarinet)
Matthias Erlewein (2nd alto/soprano saxophones, flute, clarinet)
Alan Skidmore (1st tenor/soprano saxophones)
Lutz Büchner (2nd tenor/soprano saxophones, flute, clarinet)
Frank Delle (baritone/tenor saxophones)
Substitutes: Sebastian Gille (tenor/soprano saxophones), Björn Berger (baritone saxophones)

Guitar: Roland Cabezaz
Bass: Laurence Cottle
Piano: Vladyslav Sendecki
Drums: Gary Husband
Percussion: Marcio Doctor

Sound Design CD 1 titles 2 & 8 / CD 2 title 3: Colin Towns
All titles arranged by Colin Towns

Recorded April 2010, at the NDR Studio 1, Hamburg, Germany
Recording producers: Ulrich Katzenberger and Andreas Paff
Recording engineer: Toby Wood
Assistant recording engineers: Jens Kunze and Wolfgang Dirks
Executive producer and conductor: Colin Towns
Mixed at Canterbury Studios, England, May 2010
Mix engineered by Toby Wood
Mastered at Finesplice, England, by Ben Turner and Toby Wood


Colin Towns, the British film and television-score writer and thrilling jazz composer, can give big-band music a rock group’s heat, a symphony orchestra’s polyphonic variety and a swing ensemble’s flaring brassy punch. Bringing this influence to John Lennon’s music has been a tantalising prospect since Towns’s wilful version of I Am the Walrus in 2001. This Lennon double-album features Hamburg’s powerful NDR Big Band, and is an often rip-roaring and sometimes idiosyncratically tender reworking of 20 Lennon songs, including Nowhere Man, Jealous Guy and Imagine. The NDR arrives like a street-marching brass band on Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite then mixes Lennon’s speech, Sergeant Pepperesque sound effects and electric guitar, and sets crunching funk against Stan Kenton-like horn-section shouts on Cold Turkey. Give Peace a Chance juxtaposes jet-plane roars and classical-flute delicacy, but Towns mostly leaves Imagine to the sparing, sonorous variations of tenor saxist Lutz Buchner. Some sympathetically enveloping orchestra parts softly twist the harmony but don’t betray an almost untouchable song.

John Fordham (The Guardian)