The long overdue release of Ralph Towner and John Abercrombie's Five Years Later, originally released in 1982, may well be the most eagerly anticipated of the Re:Solutions series that brings into print--on CD (four titles for the first time, Five Years Later previously only available for a limited time in Japan), vinyl and high resolution digital formats--seven historic ECM recordings. Add the three Abercrombie Quartet albums recorded immediately prior to Five Years Later--1979's Arcade, 1980's Abercrombie Quartet and 1981's M, planned for release later this year in an Old & New Masters Edition box--and all of these two seminal guitarists' ...read more
Following an early series of ensemble releases for ECM (the label he's called home as a leader since 1973), Ralph Towner ushered in the new millennium by focusing on solo explorations with Anthem (2001) and Time Line (2006). Not that there's anything wrong with that, but after classic records like Solstice (1975) and Batik (1978), there are those who have long pined for the days when the guitarist/pianist collaborated more regularly with others beyond Oregon, the groundbreaking group shared with bassist Glen Moore and woodwind/reed multi-instrumentalist Paul McCandless for more than 40 years. The same trio appearing on ...read more
The concert guitar is hailed by many as the perfect instrument. After being perfected in the Baroque age, virtuosos believed the wooden torso to posses the variety of an orchestra. The concert guitar produces a wide range of tone, timber, color, and dynamic expression unlike any other stringed instrument, capable of projecting a delicate voice of pure emotion. As music enters the age of electrified sound, fewer players seem to have the audacity to unplug. But amongst a mass of music technicians, there exists a small sect of quiet practitioners who seek unadulterated acoustic purity. Undistorted tones. ...read more
In a stuffed, empty room, rays of moonlight spill through a cobwebbed window and come licking a tired hardwood floor to the feet of an old, stiff chair. On it, the silhouette of a guitar; its strings, silent. At its side, a second chair with an embossed trumpet planted alongside a lonely music stand completes the tableau. Music was made in this imaginary place. But the tones have since vanished in the still air, leaving a feeling of nostalgia and of deep solitude. Moments before, two artists deeply lost in concentration--acoustic guitarist Ralph Towner and trumpeter Paolo Fresu--painted soundscapes so ...read more
Since moving to Italy over a decade ago, guitarist/pianist Ralph Towner's output as a leader has been woefully infrequent, with only two discs released this decade--2001's Anthem and 2006's Time Line, both on the label that's been his home for over 35 years, ECM. It's not that he hasn't been busy; he continues to work and record regularly with Oregon, the group that he co-founded nearly 40 years ago, heard most recently on the Grammy Award-nominated 1000 Kilometers (Cam Jazz, 2007), and on From a Dream (Material, 2009), in a stellar guitar trio with Wolfgang Muthspiel and Slava Grigoryan.read more
After Enrico Rava, the most important trumpet player in Italy is Paolo Fresu. The fact that he is not well known in the United States may be about to change, because he is now an ECM recording artist. The label has placed him with major people: Carla Bley on The Lost Chords Find Paolo Fresu in 2007 and now guitarist Ralph Towner on Chiaroscuro. A pairing of trumpet and acoustic guitar is unusual. Towner and Fresu have played together rarely and never before as a duo but they are made for each other. Both are post-modernist romantics ...read more
Continuing his long and fruitful relationship with Manfred Eicher's ECM Records--yielding a slew of successful solo records and concerts, acclaimed group work with Oregon and Solstice (also featuring Jan Garbarek), and duo work with John Abercrombie, Gary Peacock and Gary Burton--guitarist/pianist Ralph Towner has become something of an icon for the German label. Chiaroscuro marks another chapter in Towner's longstanding interest in duo work, this time pairing himself with Italian trumpeter Paolo Fresu. This largely restrained and meditative duo explores, over the course of ten pieces including Miles Davis/Bill Evans' Blue in Green," the tonal variants of brass and strings, ...read more
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