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INTERVIEW

Ralph Towner: The Accidental Guitarist

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Ralph Towner is a rather atypical figure in the vast world of jazz guitar. His instruments of choice are the classical guitar, which when he started, in the '60s, was played almost exclusively by guitarists related to Brazilian music like Charlie Byrd, Laurindo Almeida and Bola Sete, and the 12-string guitar, very common in the folk world but virtually unknown to jazz. These choices led Towner to develop his signature instrumental technique without reference to any other guitarist. In doing ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ralph Towner: My Foolish Heart

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There is no lack of poise in guitarist Ralph Towner's music. As the principle writer and guitarist for the band Oregon, a group which since 1970 has blended jazz, world music, and classical elements together, he has garnered a well-deserved reputation as one of the most virtuosic guitar players ever. For years, Towner has been consistently one of the most interesting guitars who captivated guitar fans worldwide with his sublime guitar playing, virtuosic original compositions, and innovative guitar arrangements.

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ralph Towner: My Foolish Heart

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Ralph Towner has occasionally said that he considers himself less a musician than a sort of audio novelist. An album or concert might not tell a single strict narrative, exactly, but dynamic flow is central to his compositions as much as his marvelously expressive fretting and plucking. Unsurprisingly from a player so known for picturesque sensibility (though always a delight to hear), My Foolish Heart paints another lovely series of aural images with a rich depth of experience behind it ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ralph Towner: My Foolish Heart

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If you are lucky enough to experience this guitarist live, the astonishment about the abundance and the richness of colors of his sound on the acoustic instrument should be extraordinary and should let you forget within minutes the bravura of electrified sound. Towner's wealthy guitar playing has something rather complete in itself. For him the solo recording revealed as a primary form of playing to be developed consistently through the years. His first solo album, Diary, dates from 1974 and ...

REDISCOVERY

Ralph Towner Solstice: Sound and Shadows

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Ralph Towner SolsticeSound and ShadowsECM Records1977 While it took the label a year or so to define its raison d'être, by 1970/71 Germany's ECM Records had already garnered significant attention for its pristine, transparent sound, and for beginning to redefine the possibilities of what improvised music could be. A group that seemed ideal for Manfred Eicher's nascent label was Oregon, the American group that was already pushing every envelope by bringing in elements of Indian, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ralph Towner / John Abercrombie: Five Years Later

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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, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ralph Towner / Wolfgang Muthspiel / Slava Grigoryan: Travel Guide

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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 ...

UNSUNG HEROES

Laurindo Almeida, Charlie Byrd, and Ralph Towner

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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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ralph Towner / Paolo Fesu: Chiaroscuro

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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 ...


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