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Ralph Towner: Time Line and Siroko

Celeste Sunderland By

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Ralph Towner
Time Line
ECM
2006


Olivier Ker Ourio
Siroko
Nocturne
2005




As the nylon strings of Ralph Townerâ????s classical guitar or the steel of his 12-string react to the intrepid actions of his fingers, soothing intricacies flow toward the walls and settle among the shadows. Sharp harmonics shoot up into the eaves.

With the release of his fifth solo album, Time Line, the guitarist had the opportunity to bestow the effects of his playing on the interior of St. Geroldâ????s Church, in a monastery nestled among the Austrian mountains. The setting, with its implications of spiritual and natural majesty, quite suited him. Townerâ????s tone on the album, as expected by his devotees, exists in serene harmony with an atmosphere accustomed to prayerful quietude. And his buoyancy conjures life on the sloping green glens where the billy goats graze.

Pockets of privacy arise constantly, exposing Townerâ????s inner sentimentality as he concentrates on certain techniques and dynamics. Intricate patterns are layered, one over another, on "Freeze Frame" and "If", spreading sound waves rippling out into the space to interact with each other and the artifacts within. Among the 16 tracks are two standards "Come Rain Or Come Shine" and "My Manâ????s Gone Now". A set of very short improvisations called "Five Glimpses" interrupts the albumâ????s thoroughly composed tracks, offering a bit of a breath between densities and an additional contrast to ponder.

Towner also appears on chromatic harmonica player Olivier Ker Ourioâ????s Siroko, with bassist Heiri Kaenzig. The trio convenes in a breezy realm defined by the harmonicaâ????s sinewy phrases. Towner contributes elegant subtlety on his own "Tramonto", playing a counter melody alongside Ker Ourio.

The harmonica player displays acrobatic command over an instrument rarely used in jazz groups. His compositions tactfully combine sounds of varying weights into compelling structures. They are complex, yet relaxed. Profound, yet accessible.

Kaenzigâ????s bowed bass melds gorgeously with Ker Ourio on "Seascape" as the pair play in unison. The album benefits throughout with the deep resonance the bassist offers on solos, for a sound that mingles effortlessly with the rest of the group.


Tracks and Personnel

Time Line

Tracks: The Pendant; Oleander Etude; Always By Your Side; The Hollows; Anniversary Song; Ifl Glimpses (5); The Lizards Of Eraclea; Turning Of The Leaves; Come rain or come shine; Freeze Frame; My Man's Gone Now.

Personnel: Ralph Towner: acoustic guitar.

Siroko

Tracks:

Personnel: Ralph Towner: guitar; Olivier Ker Ourio: harmonica; Heiri Kaenzig: bass.

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