174

Ralph Towner / Paolo Fresu: Chiaroscuro

Thomas Conrad By

Sign in to view read count
Ralph Towner / Paolo Fresu: Chiaroscuro 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 and erudite improvisers who take moment-to-moment liberties with melodic form. Each has spent most of his life working on his sound.

There are few sounds in jazz as sensually seductive as Towner's classical, 12-string and baritone guitars. As for Fresu, his long notes somehow contain both flawless golden light and human frailty. Chiaroscuro has the crystalline sonic quality for which ECM recordings are renowned and can be enjoyed as pure ear candy. But there is substance below the pretty surface of this music. Towner wrote most of the tunes and they subtly shift in pace and mood and evolve with a particular rapt patience and inner drama. "Wistful Thinking" is so ephemeral it barely penetrates the air but the title track is built on sharp contrast: clean trumpet lines, repeated like incantations, against deep layers of guitar pinpoints.

Towner's intelligent, counterintuitive music provides inspirational settings, but the one standard makes you wish there were more. On "Blue In Green" Fresu channels Miles Davis, drawing out the theme in silver whispers. Hearing "Blue In Green" stripped down and shared between only two eloquent instruments makes it fresh, even as it returns to that familiar existential midnight first visited on Kind Of Blue (Columbia, 1959).


Track Listing: Wistful Thinking; Punta Giara; Chiaroscuro; Sacred Place; Blue in Green; Doubled Up; Zephyr; Sacred Place (reprise); Two Miniatures; Postlude.

Personnel: Ralph Towner: classical, 12-string and baritone guitars; Paolo Fresu: trumpet, flugelhorn.

Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: ECM Records | Style: Fringes of Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read This Is Nate Najar CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Joy Comes Back CD/LP/Track Review Joy Comes Back
by James Nadal
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Apocalypse CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "Fugitive Beauté" CD/LP/Track Review Fugitive Beauté
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 11, 2016
Read "Saints and Sinners" CD/LP/Track Review Saints and Sinners
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 30, 2016
Read "Alto Manhattan" CD/LP/Track Review Alto Manhattan
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 18, 2016
Read "Rhythmic Movement" CD/LP/Track Review Rhythmic Movement
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 22, 2016
Read "The Lightning Bell" CD/LP/Track Review The Lightning Bell
by John Eyles
Published: July 19, 2016
Read "A Multitude of Angels" CD/LP/Track Review A Multitude of Angels
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 30, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!