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.

Title: Chiaroscuro | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: ECM Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read 90 Going On Amazing CD/LP/Track Review 90 Going On Amazing
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 21, 2017
Read Let There Be Life, Love and Laughter CD/LP/Track Review Let There Be Life, Love and Laughter
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: August 21, 2017
Read L.O.T.U.S. CD/LP/Track Review L.O.T.U.S.
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 21, 2017
Read Art in the Age of Automation CD/LP/Track Review Art in the Age of Automation
by Geno Thackara
Published: August 21, 2017
Read Screen Sounds CD/LP/Track Review Screen Sounds
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 20, 2017
Read Rediscovered Ellington CD/LP/Track Review Rediscovered Ellington
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 20, 2017
Read "Oração Para Amanhã (Prayer for Tomorrow)" CD/LP/Track Review Oração Para Amanhã (Prayer for...
by Roger Farbey
Published: July 10, 2017
Read "My Scandinavian Blues: A Tribute To Horace Parlan" CD/LP/Track Review My Scandinavian Blues: A Tribute To Horace Parlan
by Chris Mosey
Published: November 8, 2016
Read "The Blue Shroud" CD/LP/Track Review The Blue Shroud
by John Sharpe
Published: September 17, 2016
Read "Screen Sounds" CD/LP/Track Review Screen Sounds
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 20, 2017
Read "Day and Night" CD/LP/Track Review Day and Night
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 18, 2017
Read "The Invariant" CD/LP/Track Review The Invariant
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 17, 2017

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.