Now in his 61st year, guitarist and composer Ralph Towner can look back on the great tapestry that has made up his musical life over the preceding decades. For the past 30 years he's been associated with ECM Records, a distinction that has allowed him to express his own muse in a way that many artists would simply find enviable. He's been a vital member of the group Oregon and has worked with a large stable of singular artists including Keith Jarrett, Kenny Wheeler, Egberto Gismonti, John Abercrombie, and Gary Burton. Then there's Towner's own idiosyncratic catalog, ripe with moments of improvisational brilliance.
Only his third solo recital for ECM (the others being 1973's Diary and 1996's Ana ), Anthem contains all the earmarks of Towner's flair for melding composition with spontaneous improvisation. Among the several more lengthy pieces we find two suites featuring short vignettes- "Four Comets" and "Three Comments." With a nod towards the jazz legacy, there's Scott LaFaro's "Gloria's Step" and Mingus' "Goodbye, Pork-Pie Hat." Utilizing both classical and 12-string guitars, a perfect forum for the latter and a highpoint of the album comes via the bluesy "Raffish." Reflective and calm, "Very Late" reminds one of the reasons why Towner seems to win over even those folks who claim to have an aversion to solo discs of any kind. Magical and precious, Anthem is a keeper.
Track Listing: Solitary Woman, Anthem, Haunted, The Lutemaker, Simone, Gloria's Step, Four Comets, Raffish, Very Late, The Prowler, Three Comments, Goodbye, Pork-Pie Hat.
Personnel: Ralph Towner: classical & 12-string guitars.
I grew up listening to my father's Jazz records and listening to radio. My dad was a musician for many years as a vocalist, bassist and drummer. His two uncles played in the Symphony of Reggio Calabria back in Italy
I grew up listening to my father's Jazz records and listening to radio. My dad was a musician for many years as a vocalist, bassist and drummer. His two uncles played in the Symphony of Reggio Calabria back in Italy. So music and jazz specifically have been a part of me since I was born. I love and perform in all styles of music from around the world. Improvisation in jazz is what drew me in, and still does as well as other genres that feature improvisation. A group of great musicians expressing themselves as one is the hallmark of great jazz and in fact all great music.