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RALPH TOWNER

Jazz Rock/Fusion • United States


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Ralph Towner picture
Ralph Towner biography
Born March 1st, 1940 (Chehalis, Washington, USA)

Ralph Towner was born into a musical family, his mother a piano teacher and his father a trumpet player. Ralph and his siblings were raised in a nurturing and empowering environment that encouraged free musical experimentation and expression. In 1958, Towner enrolled in the University of Oregon as an art major, later changing his major to composition. He soon thereafter met bassist Glen Moore who would become a lifelong musical partner in the band OREGON.
It was about this time that Towner discovered the early LPs of Bill Evans, whom Towner emulated and whose influence he began to incorporate into his own piano style and composition. It was not much longer until Towner also bought a classical guitar on a lark and became entranced enough with the instrument that the early 1960s saw him heading to Vienna to study classical guitar with Karl Scheit. In 1968 Towner moved to New York City and immersed himself in the New York jazz scene, eventually landing a position with the PAUL WINTER CONSORT where the friendships and musical partnering with Glen Moore, Paul McCandless, and Collin Walcott were forged, a musical chemistry which was destined to alchemize into the band OREGON. Paul Winter also bestowed Towner with his first 12-string guitar. Towner has since coaxed the 12-string into imbuing his work with such a characteristic uniqueness that most jazz fans, given the two keywords 12-string and jazz would immediately blurt the name Ralph Towner. Towner left the WINTER CONSORT in 1970 to form the group OREGON, which over the course of the 1970s issued a number of highly influential records mixing folk music, Indian classical forms, and avant-garde jazz-influenced free improvisation.
Towner's working relationship with producer Manfred Eicher of ECM Records began in 1972 and would provide a forum for his growth as a leader and collaborator with other jazz giants, all while concomitantly breaking open musical frontiers with OREGON throughout the intervening years. Towner's ECM years also saw his most minimalist, yet most bold, endeavor. " Solo Concert" , released in 1980 on ECM, was conceptually elemental, a solo live guitar recital. Yet, no one to date had ever synthesized classical contrapuntal composition with improvisational and oddly-metered jazz like this before, especially in such a risky arena as a live performance. Such solo work would later become Towner's signature on recordings such as Ana and...
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Solstice [LP][Reissue]Solstice [LP][Reissue]
ECM 2017
$12.04
$26.65 (used)
My Foolish HeartMy Foolish Heart
ECM 2017
$11.88
$9.33 (used)
Travel GuideTravel Guide
ECM 2013
$13.60
$13.61 (used)
Lost & FoundLost & Found
Ecm Records 1996
$11.41 (used)
ECM Touchstones: SolsticeECM Touchstones: Solstice
ECM 2008
$8.35
$5.45 (used)
ECM Touchstones: BatikECM Touchstones: Batik
ECM 2008
$8.28
$4.59 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
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RALPH TOWNER, GARY BURTON: Matchbook USA ECM 1056 Jazz Vinyl LP NM- USD $10.00 Buy It Now 1h 56m
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Works by Ralph Towner (CD, Jun-1989, ECM) USD $13.88 Buy It Now 5h 42m
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9h 6m
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19h 3m
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Jan Garbarek Works (CD, Mar-1994, ECM) Ralph Towner Egberto Gismonti sealed USD $14.98 Buy It Now 3 days
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4 days
Ralph Towner - Ana (CD Used Very Good) USD $12.03 Buy It Now 4 days
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Ralph Towner - Anthem [CD] USD $17.63 Buy It Now 5 days
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If You Look Far Enough by Nan Vasconcelos/Ralph Towner/Arild Andersen (CD, ECM) USD $46.99 Buy It Now 5 days
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PAUL WINTER CONSORT Road 1970 LP VG++ Ralph Towner Paul McCandless USD $8.99 Buy It Now 6 days
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Ralph Towner - Diary (CD Used Very Good) USD $15.37 Buy It Now 6 days
RALPH TOWNER - LOST AND FOUND - JAZZ CD ALBUM 1996 ECM 1563 (GERMAN ISSUE) USD $20.08 Buy It Now 6 days
RALPH TOWNER / JOHN ABERCROMBIE Five Years Later LP 1982 ECM Records USA VG+/VG USD $10.43 Buy It Now 6 days
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RALPH TOWNER discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

RALPH TOWNER top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.86 | 7 ratings
Ralph Towner & Glenn Moore: Trios / Solos
1973
3.33 | 8 ratings
Diary
1974
3.67 | 9 ratings
Ralph Towner & Gary Burton: Matchbook
1975
4.26 | 37 ratings
Solstice
1975
4.40 | 10 ratings
Solstice / Sound And Shadows
1977
4.18 | 11 ratings
Batik
1978
4.31 | 13 ratings
Old Friends, New Friends
1979
4.20 | 5 ratings
Ralph Towner & John Abercrombie: Five Years Later
1982
3.23 | 7 ratings
Blue Sun
1983
4.50 | 6 ratings
Ralph Towner & Gary Burton: Slide Show
1986
4.07 | 9 ratings
City Of Eyes
1989
4.50 | 2 ratings
Un' Altra Vita (OST)
1992
3.83 | 6 ratings
Open Letter
1992
3.96 | 9 ratings
Lost And Found
1996
4.43 | 7 ratings
Ana
1997
4.17 | 6 ratings
Ralph Towner & Gary Peacock: A Closer View
1998
4.29 | 7 ratings
Anthem
2001
4.33 | 6 ratings
Time Line
2006
4.00 | 6 ratings
Ralph Towner & Paolo Fresu: Chiaroscuro
2009
4.29 | 7 ratings
Ralph Towner, Wolfgang Muthspiel & Slava Grigoryan: Travel Guide
2013
4.11 | 28 ratings
My Foolish Heart
2017

RALPH TOWNER Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.25 | 8 ratings
Solo Concert
1980

RALPH TOWNER Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

RALPH TOWNER Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Works
1982

RALPH TOWNER Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

RALPH TOWNER Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 My Foolish Heart by TOWNER,RALPH album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.11 | 28 ratings

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My Foolish Heart
Ralph Towner Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

5 stars A guitar only release by master guitar player Ralph Towner.

It is hard not to feel surprised and delighted with "My Foolish Heart", 2017. Its precise and up front beauty resides in many factors starting with its compositions. Eight new original ones, alongside a couple of Towner's OREGON repertoire ("Shard" & "Rewind"), a tribute oriented one to the late Paul Bley ("Blue As In Bley") and a heartfelt cover of Victor Young's "My Foolish Heart".

How refreshing to listen to Jazz rooted guitar compositions which are so creatively crafted, with such an innovative spirit and such an enticing and masterful performance, yet deeply modern in language without the aid of "modern Jazz cliches" nor "Latin" flavors.

Pure and flawless Ralph Towner and as good as he gets!

*****5 PA stars.

 Solstice by TOWNER,RALPH album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.26 | 37 ratings

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Solstice
Ralph Towner Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

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.
 Solstice by TOWNER,RALPH album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.26 | 37 ratings

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Solstice
Ralph Towner Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator 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+.

 Blue Sun by TOWNER,RALPH album cover Studio Album, 1983
3.23 | 7 ratings

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Blue Sun
Ralph Towner Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Chris S
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars 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.

 Diary by TOWNER,RALPH album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.33 | 8 ratings

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Diary
Ralph Towner Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Chris S
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars 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.

 Lost And Found by TOWNER,RALPH album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.96 | 9 ratings

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Lost And Found
Ralph Towner Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars This Ralph Towner's solo album is recorded as quartet with drummer Jon Christensen, sax player Denney Goodhew and bassist Marc Johnson. Album's opener is usual Ralph just-classic guitar composition, influenced by melancholic Latin folklore.

But from second composition Towner goes deeper in minimalistic improvs, with very elegant help of supporting musicians. He demonstrates his best abilities there - abilities to play melodic improvs, to mix folk and jazz in excellent minimalistic, but attractive and accessible sound."Elan Vital" demonstrates such combination of jazzy rhythms and very folksy winds over the Ralph guitar.

Another Towner's visit card is melancholic, even sentimental compositions. "Summer's End" is the one on this album. Down tempo, with dry acoustic guitar chords and sax on the front of the sound, this melancholic melody will remind you of last warm days of the summer for sure. Towner, even often being sentimental, never cross the border and become pathetic or cheese though. Great talent!

"Col Legno" is Johnson composition, played solely bas double bass. Minimalistic and chamber at the same time. Another Johnson's composition on this album - "Sco Cone" - again played by bass solely, but this time it contains some funky groove.

All 15 album's compositions are beautiful musical paintings more than just songs, with dreamy, melancholic atmosphere and excellent musicianship. As often, it's difficult to classify the music of Towner recordings. Acoustic fusion of folksy jazz, post-bop and improvs? Doesn't matter, every fan of acoustic guitar, intelligent minimalistic sound and melancholic melodies will enjoy this album for sure.

 Solstice by TOWNER,RALPH album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.26 | 37 ratings

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Solstice
Ralph Towner Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Chris S
Special Collaborator 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.

 City Of Eyes by TOWNER,RALPH album cover Studio Album, 1989
4.07 | 9 ratings

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City Of Eyes
Ralph Towner Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars For many jazz fusion lovers Ralph Towner is known by his guitar participated on Weather Report album "I Sing The Body Electric" or his collaboration on Bill Bruford solo album "If Summer Had Its Ghosts". But Towner is a founder of "Oregon" band and has long solo career as well. Being mostly acoustic guitarist , he is known as 12-string guitar master, but he experimented with new technologies (as sound synthesizers) as well.

"City Of Eyes" isn't very usual Towner's album: he has four collaborators there, including great jazz bassist Gary Peacock. Album's opener "Jamaica Stopover" has groove and some Southern melody. "Cascades" is one of few songs, where all musicians play together. Some mix of neo-classical elements and soft fusion drumming, filled with brass soloing. Paul McCandless, former ex-Oregon keyboardist/multi instrumentalist is known by his world fusion /new age works, but he creates more ambient atmosphere there. Winds interplays are airy and have their roots in Nordic folk.

Bigger part of album's compositions combines minimalistic neo-classical elements and some jazz aesthetics. Cool, often ascetic ECM usual sound, beautiful, a bit nostalgic melodies, perfect lines of all instruments. In some moments - a bit nervous and dark free-jazz sounds, but never - too chaotic or destroying whole album's beauty. Every composition is an aural painting of it's own plastic and atmosphere.

Whole album's music is difficult to classify - in some moments it's similar to some Pat Metheny works, in other - goes somewhere to neo classical, free-jazz or improv territories. But all the album is one musical piece doesn't destroyed by such fluctuations.

Really interesting work for open ears jazz fusion fans.

Thanks to snobb for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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