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Ralph Towner

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Ralph Towner Ralph Towner & Paolo Fresu: Chiaroscuro album cover
3.93 | 11 ratings | 1 reviews | 27% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2009

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Wistful Thinking (4:19)
2. Punto Giara (6:20)
3. Chiaroscuro (6:30)
4. Sacred Place (4:13)
5. Blue In Green (5:44)
6. Doubled Up (4:55)
7. Zephyr (7:28)
8. The Sacred Place (Reprise) (1:58)
9. Two Miniatures (2:38)
10. Postlude (2:31)

Total time 46:36

Line-up / Musicians

- Ralph Towner / Classical, baritone & 12-string guitars
- Paolo Fresu / trumpet, flugelhorn

Releases information

Artwork: Sascha Kleis with Thomas Wunsch (photo)

CD ECM Records ‎- ECM 2085 (2009, Germany)

Thanks to snobb for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy RALPH TOWNER Ralph Towner & Paolo Fresu: Chiaroscuro Music

RALPH TOWNER Ralph Towner & Paolo Fresu: Chiaroscuro ratings distribution

(11 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(27%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(36%)
Good, but non-essential (27%)
Collectors/fans only (9%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

RALPH TOWNER Ralph Towner & Paolo Fresu: Chiaroscuro reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Matti
4 stars -- The first review for this album --

American guitarist and composer RALPH TOWNER (b. 1940), also known as a central member of the world music flavoured fusion group OREGON, has a massive solo discography starting from 1973. Especially during his later career since the late nineties, after having made a fine quartet album Lost and Found (1995), he has mostly concentrated on albums where he plays acoustic guitars completely without other musicians, and a few albums that are collaborations with usually just one musician. Named after the visual arts term meaning the use of strong contrasts between light and dark, Chiaroscuro is a duet effort featuring Towner on Classical, Baritone and 12-string guitars and Italian Paolo Fresu on trumpet and flugelhorn. Although they had met already 15 years earlier, this is their first collaboration.

This is not the kind of an album I would be willing to analyze track by track (there are ten of them). Simply because the music flows so smoothly, peacefully and sincerely that the attempt to find something distinctive to say on each individual piece feels a bit trivial compared to just enjoying them. The sounds of acoustic guitar and trumpet seem to be a perfect match here. Except that one cannot say they would be equal, because the leading role is clearly for the guitar on the album whole. Also the compositions are mainly by Ralph Towner; a couple of little pieces are credited to both of them, and 'Blue in Green' is a fresh interpretation of a Miles Davis / Bill Evans original.

To summarize, the album's music is very spatial and delicate, and yet full of life and simple happiness. Often graced with thought and modest-natured wisdom, so to speak. Among the most impressive pieces are the slow opening track 'Wistful Thinking' in which the soft-sounding trumpet is more essential for the mood and melodies; 'Chiaroscuro' which is balanced between duet playing and solo guitar; 'Sacred Place' for its intimate warmth slightly resembling the best acoustic moments of Steve Hackett or Steve Howe; and the longest piece 'Zephyr' (7:28) which as a composition had originally appeared on OREGON's album Ecotopia (1987).

If you enjoy peaceful and intimate acoustic instrumental music and are fond of the sounds of acoustic guitars and trumpet / flugelhorn, this album will surely charm you with its hurriless elegance and beauty. 4+ stars. [ My review probably sounds so glorifying that you may ask, why not five stars then? Well, this fine album COULD be more varied and exciting, indeed more up to the name Chiaroscuro, and not necessarily all tracks make a deep emotional impact on me. ]

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