'Meeting Of The Spirits' is a live recording of an exciting, original project commissioned by one of Germany's leading big bands, the HR Big Band. Arranging the music of John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra for a big band required a very special arranger and the British arranger and composer Colin Towns, who has recently done the same for the music of Frank Zappa, perfectly fills the role. Underpinning the whole venture is the master drummer, jazz legend and founder member of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Billy Cobham.
Colin Towns has managed to retain the wild energy, breakneck virtuosity and Indian-inspired mysticism of the original music while also taking it to a new level by merging and enriching it with the orchestral possibilities of a large ensemble. His use of tonal colour is highly effective, underlining his masterful sense of dramatic tone and form. Billy Cobham adds rhythmic authenticity and drive to the project with his unmistakeable voice and the melodic richness of his playing. And the HR Big Band under the direction of Towns whole-heartedly succeeds in capturing the explosive spirituality of McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra.
Personnel: Billy Cobham - (drums), Heinz Dieter Sauerborn - (alto sax, flute), Oliver Leicht - (alto & soprano sax, flute), Harry Petersen - (tenor sax, clarinet, flute), Johannes Enders - (tenor sax, soprano sax, flute), Rainer Heute - (bass saxophone, bass clarinet), Tobias Weidinger, Martin Auer, Thomas Vogel, Axel Schlosser - (trumpet, flugelhorn), Günter Bollmann, Peter Feil, Christian Jaksjö, Manfred Honetschläger - (trombone), Martin Scales - (guitar), Peter Reiter - (piano, fender Rhodes, keyboards), Thomas Heidepriem - (bass)
(4 stars) Colin Towns' orchestrations are a stunning mix of imagination and craftsmanship... A great album. -- Jazzwise, (Stuart Nicholson), March 2007
(4 stars) More proof that big band jazz isn't just for Basie
-- The Times, (John Bungey), March 17, 2007
(5 stars) Cobham delivers his unmistakable groove throughout...one of the most interesting and enjoyable big band records I have heard. -- Drummer Magazine, (Brent Keefe), March 2007
The Big Band tackle their work with aplomb...it is almost surprisingly effective and absorbing. Good show.
-- Jazz Review, (Richard Cook), February / March 2007