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Ralph Towner - Solstice CD (album) cover


Ralph Towner

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Well it absolutely fantastic to see Ralph Towner added to Progressive Archives. 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.

Report this review (#289703)
Posted Thursday, July 8, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This album is one of cornerstone of European modern jazz. Excellent expressionist sound pictures painted by Towner's guitar, ECM founder Eberhard's bass, great jazz drummer Jon Hristensen and Nordic trumpet genius Jan Garbarek just build all the basis for what will be named "ECM sound" later.

Cool, aerial, melancholic, but Nordic- not too much sensitive, compositions, showed that improv jazz music could be not only interesting, but beautiful as well. Possibly, the best Towner work to time, at the same time is one of the best trumpeter's Jan Garbarek work as well! It is more than enough to name this album excellent.

Album's opener - 10 minutes long "Ocean" shows to listener all he must to know about this album. If you like Nordic jazz, you will love this song as well. After you heard the opener, you are ready to listen all the album. Every composition is excellent, but you know now what to wait.

Music fluctuates between folksy jazz improvs and acoustic fusion, being free and beautiful at the same time. Rare combination of accessibility and complexity.

If you're newbie to Ralph Towner, Jan Garbarek, or ECM sound in whole, just start there. Possibly you will find your new interest in music.

My rating is 4+.

Report this review (#290005)
Posted Monday, July 12, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars On Solstice, Ralph Towner presents a style of fusion which sometimes musters the volcanic fury of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, but just as often explores more downbeat and melancholy territory than fusion usually deals with. As a genre whose fans prize fast, technical playing, fusion doesn't often do "quiet", but Towner manages to pull it off brilliantly here, helping to establish the basis of the distinctive ECM sound along the way. And amazingly enough, it's mostly improvised too! Towner's Northern European backing band prove to be more than capable of supporting Towner's vision, and whilst the album might not be one of the more famous products of the fusion era, it's certainly one of the more original ones.
Report this review (#1014752)
Posted Friday, August 9, 2013 | Review Permalink

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