RALPH TOWNER

Post-Fusion Contemporary / World Fusion / Jazz Related Soundtracks • United States
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Ralph Towner was born in Washington state in 1940, moved to Oregon at age five and grew ap there. He began to improvise at the piano at age 5, imitating recordings from the WW II era. The Towner family were all musicians, and instruments from the brass, string and woodwind groups were all represented in the family orchestra. Ralph began formal study on trumpet, and began playing in dixieland, swing and polka bands at age seven. Although his mother was a piano teacher and church organist, he declined to study the keyboard and continued as a self-taught pianist/improviser. He studied classical composition at the University of Oregon, graduated in 1963 and went to Vienna, Austria to study classical guitar, an instrument he discovered in his fourth year of college. He studied for a year under the renowned Professor Karl Scheit, returned to the University of Oregon for graduate studies with read more...
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RALPH TOWNER Discography

RALPH TOWNER albums / top albums

RALPH TOWNER Trios / Solos (With Glen Moore) album cover 4.00 | 2 ratings
Trios / Solos (With Glen Moore)
Post-Fusion Contemporary 1973
RALPH TOWNER Diary album cover 4.07 | 5 ratings
Diary
Post-Fusion Contemporary 1974
RALPH TOWNER Solstice album cover 4.32 | 11 ratings
Solstice
Post-Fusion Contemporary 1975
RALPH TOWNER Matchbook (with Gary Burton) album cover 4.54 | 5 ratings
Matchbook (with Gary Burton)
Post-Fusion Contemporary 1975
RALPH TOWNER Solstice, Sound and Shadows album cover 4.67 | 3 ratings
Solstice, Sound and Shadows
Post-Fusion Contemporary 1977
RALPH TOWNER Batik album cover 4.62 | 4 ratings
Batik
World Fusion 1978
RALPH TOWNER Old Friends, New Friends album cover 4.08 | 6 ratings
Old Friends, New Friends
World Fusion 1979
RALPH TOWNER Five Years Later album cover 4.17 | 3 ratings
Five Years Later
World Fusion 1982
RALPH TOWNER Blue Sun album cover 3.79 | 5 ratings
Blue Sun
Post-Fusion Contemporary 1983
RALPH TOWNER Slide Show (with Gary Burton) album cover 4.75 | 2 ratings
Slide Show (with Gary Burton)
Post-Fusion Contemporary 1986
RALPH TOWNER City of Eyes album cover 5.00 | 2 ratings
City of Eyes
World Fusion 1989
RALPH TOWNER Koputai album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Koputai
Post-Fusion Contemporary 1990
RALPH TOWNER Un' Altra Vita album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Un' Altra Vita
Jazz Related Soundtracks 1992
RALPH TOWNER Open Letter album cover 4.12 | 4 ratings
Open Letter
World Fusion 1992
RALPH TOWNER Lost and Found album cover 4.17 | 3 ratings
Lost and Found
World Fusion 1996
RALPH TOWNER Ana album cover 5.00 | 1 ratings
Ana
World Fusion 1997
RALPH TOWNER A Closer View (with Gary Peacock) album cover 5.00 | 1 ratings
A Closer View (with Gary Peacock)
Post-Fusion Contemporary 1998
RALPH TOWNER Anthem album cover 4.67 | 3 ratings
Anthem
World Fusion 2001
RALPH TOWNER Time Line album cover 4.50 | 2 ratings
Time Line
World Fusion 2006
RALPH TOWNER Chiaroscuro (with Paolo Fresu) album cover 4.55 | 2 ratings
Chiaroscuro (with Paolo Fresu)
Post-Fusion Contemporary 2009
RALPH TOWNER Travel Guide album cover 4.00 | 3 ratings
Travel Guide
Post-Fusion Contemporary 2013
RALPH TOWNER My Foolish Heart album cover 4.50 | 1 ratings
My Foolish Heart
Post-Fusion Contemporary 2017

RALPH TOWNER EPs & splits

RALPH TOWNER live albums

RALPH TOWNER Solo Concert album cover 5.00 | 2 ratings
Solo Concert
World Fusion 1980

RALPH TOWNER demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

RALPH TOWNER re-issues & compilations

RALPH TOWNER Works album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Works
World Fusion 1984

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RALPH TOWNER movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

RALPH TOWNER Reviews

RALPH TOWNER Chiaroscuro (with Paolo Fresu)

Album · 2009 · Post-Fusion Contemporary
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Steve Wyzard
INCOMPARABLE LIGHT AND SHADE

With the passage of time, the trumpet has become increasingly important to ECM Records. Following in the footsteps of Tomasz Stanko and Enrico Rava, we are here introduced to Paolo Fresu, who has led many ensembles and recorded many albums (available as imports) in his native Italy. For his first widely distributed release in he western hemisphere, he is paired with long-time ECM recording artist/guitar virtuoso Ralph Towner. The two met at a festival in Italy, and decided to perform and record together as a duo.

So when was the last time you heard a guitar/trumpet duet? This album works brilliantly on every level despite taking a risk with an unusual pairing. While this is mostly reflective, introspective, meditative music, there is also way too much happening with both performers for it to remain placidly in the background. Towner, who has played on many of ECM's greatest albums (Matchbook, Solstice, Solo Concert, et al), contributes fleet-fingered picking on "Punta Giara", double-tracks a baritone guitar on "Sacred Place" and "Doubled Up", and recaptures throughout the classical/jazz/world/folk sound he has given us since the early 1970s. Fresu plays both trumpet and flugelhorn, and his tone has just enough sharp edges (especially on the title track) to avoid being dismissed as a smooth impressionist. He performs a muted tribute to Miles Davis on "Blue in Green", which receives a very different arrangement from Towner's cover with Gary Burton on 1986's Slide Show album. Chiaroscuro closes with two brief but haunting improv pieces, "Two Miniatures" and "Postlude".

It all sounds "very ECM", and one wonders why this instrumental pairing hasn't been attempted before (or if it has, why so rarely). At 46:43, the idea is not overworked and never drifts into aimless repetitiveness. Outstanding recording and booklet graphics, as always, are a given with ECM. Highly recommended for late-night listening, and for those looking for something different.

RALPH TOWNER Matchbook (with Gary Burton)

Album · 1975 · Post-Fusion Contemporary
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Steve Wyzard
Transcendent!

Back in the early 1970's, the ECM Records motto "The Most Beautiful Sound Next To Silence" was never so eloquently captured and epitomized than on this album. It's one of the greatest moments in both Ralph Towner's and Gary Burton's extensive catalogs dating back to the 1960's. Those looking for the avant-garde and envelope-pushing sounds found on many other ECM recordings from this time are advised to look elsewhere. This is the anthemic, thought-provoking "chamber jazz" that made ECM the success story it still is today.

From the utter stillness of "Drifting Petals" and "Some Other Time", to the humorous title track (where Towner achieves a fuzzy buzzing sound by inserting a matchbook - thus the title - into his guitar strings on the fretboard), to Oregon covers "Icarus" and "Aurora", to the experimental solo pieces "Brotherhood" and "1 x 6", this album is staggeringly inspired and has no weak moments. If a quiet Sunday afternoon could be set to music, this album would be it. Highest of all possible recommendations, and one of the best examples of the highly-vaunted "ECM sound".

RALPH TOWNER Blue Sun

Album · 1983 · Post-Fusion Contemporary
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chris s
Blue Sun marked the beginning of the 1980's for Ralph Towner. All instruments played by the multi instrumentalist but the classical guitar and 12 strings having the most impact. The opener Blue Sun is a beautiful moody song where his guitar work perfectly depicts the sun in all it's glory. Towner always has an inept skill at replicating climate and seasonal atmospheres to his musical pieces. The follow up " The Prince and The Sage" is another highlight to the album where his instruments play off against one another perfectly to create a lovely song. " C.T. Kangaroo" has always perplexed me, maybe it is Ralph Towner just having a bit of fun but the song is largely a throw away piece yet with clever interplays. My personal favourite is " Wedding of the Streams" where he evokes a cacophany of streaming rivulets of water all babbling in harmony at once. A truly elvish sounding piece :-). " Rumours of Rain" the closer is a brooding, slow, dark song. I am not sure whether it is titled from the anti apartheid novelist Andre Brink's book of the same name. If so one can definitely associate and relate to the sombre mood of this length song. In summary a great album and almost a four star work but as this reviewer prefers to round down I am going to give this album a solid three and a half stars.

RALPH TOWNER Diary

Album · 1974 · Post-Fusion Contemporary
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chris s
Released in 1973 prior to the excellent Solstice. Diary is for the most part played solely by Ralph Towner himself and whilst the classical guitar playing is the trademark sound of Towner, the piano and keyboards are much more evident on Diary and by far play the biggest influence to the album. There are four tracks that really standout here, the opening " Dark Spirit" which sets the laid back minimalist tonal soundscapes, found on most of the album. Not the best by a long shot. These would have to be the beautiful melancholic " Ogden Road" and also " Mon Enfant". Again " Icarus" displays some wonderful pieces where the longer passages proves the albums worth. Early days for Ralph Towner and a good album, but this reviewer still recommends Solstice as a better inroduction to this musician's music. Three solid stars.

RALPH TOWNER Solstice

Album · 1975 · Post-Fusion Contemporary
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chris s
An important ECM artist for mostly minimalist jazz instrumentals, alongside the likes of Jan Garbarek and Eberhard Weber or even keyboardist Keith Jarrett. What needs to be said about Solstice? An absolutely stunning aural tapestry of sound encompassing all the characteristics one would feel or find with Winter, distant sun, weak sunlight, falling leaves or still frozen lakes and driven snow. It's depiction of this mood is so accurately kicked off with the splendid Oceanus. Towner's 12 string guitar is simply beautiful as is Garbarek's flute. A major highlight throughout Solstice is Eberhard Weber's bass and cello playing too. The musicianship holds this album together extremely well and being under the ECM banner/or progressive sound one can tell on listening and appreciating it why the music does not age at all. Anyway "Oceanus" take the listener on a swirling 11 minute ride before the alien song called ' Visitation' steps in. Perhaps one of the few songs that really does send shivers down the spine when depicting the possibilities of alien life. The most unusual track on the album but not unpleasant, reminds the reviewer morelike of amoeba and still pond life in midst of Winter. ' Drifting Petals" closes side one and is a beautiful seven minute passage and in the reviewers opinion the most accessible song on Solstice. Side two follows with ' Nimbus' which is an extremely clever piece of music with quirky time signatures as Weber and Towner interchange expertly between cello, bass and 12 string. Winter Solstice is next and here and the next few songs is where Garbarek seems to have more license to play out the album with the exception of Piscean Dance.

In summary this album would have received a fiver star rating had the album not dissipated so readily after Winter Solstice. It is an exceptional work that will require repeated listens by people new to RT before fully appreciating how important this work is. Four and a half stars.

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