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RALPH TOWNER

Jazz Rock/Fusion • United States


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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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Buy RALPH TOWNER Music


DiaryDiary
ECM 2019
$8.88
$14.40 (used)
My Foolish HeartMy Foolish Heart
ECM 2017
$11.93
$8.55 (used)
ECM Touchstones: SolsticeECM Touchstones: Solstice
ECM 2008
$8.82
$8.35 (used)
Five Years LaterFive Years Later
ECM 2014
$17.01
Solo ConcertSolo Concert
ECM 2000
$13.87 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
Ralph Towner - Solo Concert [New CD] Reissue, Japan - Import USD $21.09 Buy It Now 2h
Girotto Javier / Aires Tango / Ralph Towner - Duende [New CD] Italy - Import USD $15.14 Buy It Now 2h 52m
Ralph Towner-Anthem (UK IMPORT) CD NEW USD $15.21 Buy It Now 3h 26m
Ralph Towner - Solo Concert [New CD] Reissue, Japan - Import USD $21.63 Buy It Now 4h 18m
Ralph Towner - Solstice - Sound and Shadows - Jazz LP - Sealed No Marks USD $9.98 Buy It Now 4h 35m
Ralph Towner-Anthem (UK IMPORT) CD NEW USD $15.95 Buy It Now 5h 27m
Ralph Towner Solstice Sound & Shadows White Label Promo ECM 1977 Garbarek Weber USD $24.83 Buy It Now 6h 28m
Oregon Violin LP Vanguard 1978 EX [Ralph Towner] USD $11.00 Buy It Now 7h 16m
Ralph Towner/Wolfgang Muths...-Travel Guide (UK IMPORT) CD NEW USD $15.95 Buy It Now 7h 48m
Ralph Towner/Wolfgang Muths...-Travel Guide (UK IMPORT) CD NEW USD $15.21 Buy It Now 8h 7m
Oregon Winter Light LP Vanguard 1974 VG+ [Ralph Towner] USD $9.95 Buy It Now 8h 25m
City of Eyes by Ralph Towner (CD, Apr-1989, ECM) USD $6.03 [0 bids]
10h 11m
Slide Show by Ralph Towner (CD, Feb-1986, ECM) A341 USD $14.53 Buy It Now 15h 54m
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OREGON / RALPH TOWNER / COLLIN WALCOTT / FRIENDS / JAZZ / KING JAPAN GP3135 USD $9.99 [0 bids]
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RALPH TOWNER: Old Friends, New Friends LP (promo stamp & small toc) Jazz USD $12.00 Buy It Now 4 days
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USD $8.00 Buy It Now
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Blue Sun by Ralph Towner (CD, Oct-1986, ECM) USD $5.00 [0 bids]
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OREGON Distant Hills Factory Sealed 1973 Vanguard VSD-79341 Ralph Towner USD $34.99 Buy It Now 6 days
Solo Concert by Ralph Towner (CD, Dec-1985, ECM) USD $1.50 [0 bids]
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)

3.88 | 8 ratings
Ralph Towner & Glenn Moore: Trios / Solos
1973
3.32 | 9 ratings
Diary
1974
3.70 | 10 ratings
Ralph Towner & Gary Burton: Matchbook
1975
4.32 | 42 ratings
Solstice
1975
4.36 | 11 ratings
Solstice / Sound And Shadows
1977
4.17 | 12 ratings
Batik
1978
4.31 | 16 ratings
Old Friends, New Friends
1979
4.17 | 6 ratings
Ralph Towner & John Abercrombie: Five Years Later
1982
3.22 | 8 ratings
Blue Sun
1983
4.43 | 7 ratings
Ralph Towner & Gary Burton: Slide Show
1986
4.07 | 10 ratings
City Of Eyes
1989
4.33 | 3 ratings
Un' Altra Vita (OST)
1992
4.00 | 8 ratings
Open Letter
1992
3.97 | 10 ratings
Lost And Found
1996
4.38 | 8 ratings
Ana
1997
4.14 | 7 ratings
Ralph Towner & Gary Peacock: A Closer View
1998
4.25 | 8 ratings
Anthem
2001
4.29 | 7 ratings
Time Line
2006
4.00 | 7 ratings
Ralph Towner & Paolo Fresu: Chiaroscuro
2009
4.07 | 8 ratings
Ralph Towner, Wolfgang Muthspiel & Slava Grigoryan: Travel Guide
2013
4.08 | 32 ratings
My Foolish Heart
2017

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

4.22 | 9 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)

3.00 | 1 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
 Solstice by TOWNER,RALPH album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.32 | 42 ratings

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Solstice
Ralph Towner Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by toddbashee

5 stars I'm biased, but I'll try to make it helpful. Maybe my Towner story will offer a new listener a little glimpse of what the impact of his music can be. For starters, any prog lover with an open mind, should be fascinated - not put off dismissive nor intimidated - by what is unique about him and his music.

Towner should be understood as an innovative composer-performer who transcends and sidesteps ANY genre. He is classifiable as a world/jazz/classical/improvisatory musician playing a classical guitar with classical technique, with lyrical structures, unique chord voicing (one measure, and there is no mistaking him or any musician who has ever made a recording), virtuoso technique, creative mix of acoustic, electric, and esoteric instruments, and both free time and strangely grooving, shifting, odd-meter rhythms, with and without percussion. Though his percussionists are among the most creative you will ever hear (Jon Christensen is a Norwegian legend of artful, restrained-yet-passionate drumming). This ain't progressive rock, but it hits all the marks a prog-lover is likely to require, except the bombast of some prog artists.

In college, 1983, I was a classic prog-lover, feeling sad because I was sure I had heard it all. Genesis first, Yes, Gentle Giant, sometimes ELP, plus Canterbury, RIO, as much obscure and esoteric stuff as I could find which felt like it had heart, edge, and substance. There was, I believed, no new progressive rock, nor anything to do for me what Zeppelin and The Beatles did. This day offered the two musical paths, unexpected, which would lead me to still-enriching and thrilling musical worlds which wind together and apart, but never failing to offer thrills and creative nourishment. Add to this the discovery, around 2005, that lots of good and great prog had begun to grow out of a renaissance of devotion to its sound and values a number of years earlier, while I had stopped paying attention: Echolyn, Flower Kings, Anglagard, Anekdoten, Big Big Train, etc. That's for another review.

There was a little record store on campus. On lunch break, I sleep-walked in and started my habitual rifling-through the stacks, not expecting anything. First, I came upon the orange cover of Miles Smiles. I remembered that my Dad - a plainly dressed, mild- mannered-looking professor/civil servant type who was both far more passionate, volatile, and open-minded yet opinionated than he seemed, especially about music, had an encyclopedic sensitivity to classical music had an iffy but sometimes positive attitude toward jazz. I was sure it wouldn't suck, and I put aside any prejudices about what I thought "jazz" was...and there was the beginning of half of the twofold path.

I bought Miles Smiles, and one piece of significance of that album, among several, was that it introduced me to musicians who led to other musicians - like DeJohnette thru Tony Williams, Dave Holland and Kenny Wheeler (the latter on Bruford's first album, the former name-dropped as the bassist he WANTED on One of a Kind) through my new love for acoustic bass and trumpets, Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter leading to Joni Mitchell (a truly, massively progressive musician, if you didn't know). Wheeler, DeJohnette, and Holland were also mainstays of the ECM music-world, so there is one way the paths converge and diverge.

But that same day, the other record I found was Solstice....the sheer black cover with the abstracted trees, ice blue, set in a stark square against all black, simple lettering organized in perfect, simple geometry, was tantalizing, and would always be associated with the pristine qualities of ECM music, whether minimalist chamber-jazz free or fiery, or classical re-framings, or unclassifiable synthesis of elements from the bigger universe. I was bored, and the packaging and player-credits, they were interesting to start with. And, that sound-quality....nothing like it. ECM is a musical world, not a label or a company.

I played Solstice before the Miles Davis. That moment was just a notch below losing my virginity. No idea what to expect. Jaw dropped. Thought was: "this is my music. I've been waiting for this". Twelve-string and classical guitar, with sax and flute, plucked, bowed, and multi-tracked electric cello and five string bass, plus drums? Musicians from three different cultures?

On goes Oceanus. Resembles nothing. Hit my Prog Receptors, but sounded nothing like any prog I knew of. Open, shimmering twelve-string chords - chords I'd never heard before, at least not that way. In comes a tapestry of smoothly skittering, free-swinging ride cymbal (Jon's legendary 22-inch Turkish-Z), with expository snare and accenting bass drum....not what the uninitiated thinks of as jazz, but swinging, never repeating, and always implying a pulse. I'd never heard this kind of free-jazz-groove before. Multi- tracked swell of bowed electric cello-bass - tenor sax like a voice from the sky. Not bebop. No free-blowing....but clearly based on a few strange but beautiful harmonic transitions, about which the players have a heated discussion, which I got to listen in upon. Think I'm being too dramatic? Read other descriptions of this tune, this album, online, here on PA.

Lots of highlights...huge variety. The alien meeting of "Visitation". Free-funk dialogue of drums and 12-string...just a musical event, comes and goes; feels like walking in on the middle of two guys telling each other inside jokes, and then they spot you, and leave. Nimbus: gorgeous, stunning melody, intro'd on guitar, joined and flute, building tension, repeated, tension dropping back, until the whole group comes in, flute shifting to wailing sax, drums dancing around a 6/8 time interspersed with dramatic cadences in 3 and 4, half-time, double time. Weber getting sounds you never heard of - resembling both fretless bass, orchestral cello and bass fiddle - Jaco playing ambient, sometimes with a bow, while meditating on Bartok. Back to flute. There's more...no point in describing everything you're likely to experience in your own way.

This might open a new door for you, as it did for me. Ralph Towner is my favorite musician, period. He says things no one else says, in a language you never learned, understand intuitively, but would need decades to analyze for both content and aesthetics. He improvises fluently in chords no one else would use, alternating with finger-style virtuoso runs, harmonics, internal counterpoint, sometimes melodic and sometimes otherworldly and dissonant. He says it on two kinds of guitar, world-class piano playing, trumpet and French horn, and synthesizer (sounds strange for this singular acoustic voice to have been drawn to a Prophet 5 synth ( little later in his career, solo and with Oregon), but if you listen carefully, you'll hear it is an extension of his voice, his ideas about both substance and atmosphere). Towner also plays jazz standards, in a beautiful way....but with that unmistakable voice.

Eberhard Weber, now permanently retired due to a stroke (but creative enough to have chosen his favorite live bass solos and turning them into GOOD compositions opened up by Garbarek and others - see John Kelman's review of "Resume" on All About Jazz), made a point of sounding like no other bassist, ever. His own "Colours of Chloe" was, quietly, the inauguration of a whole new kind of jazz-prog-classical synthesis, which changed the ears and the stylistic choices of creative musicians and listeners around the world. A whole separate river of fusion.

Garbarek has moved through every style from free, Ayler-Coltrane blowing, to ruminative Scandinavian-folk-inspired compositions - which have disappointed many fans of his more open playing, but which, too, are their own aesthetic - and Garbarek's tone and harmonic ideas have created a whole-'nuther aesthetic for the sax, apart from bebop, hard-bop, free, or fusion.....it is its own thing, and many younger saxophonists have taken up that basic idea, no longer sounding like Parker, Rollins, Coleman, Shorter, or 'Trane devotees.

Christensen, too, cannot be mistaken for anyone else....his is a true voice, and philosophy, of time and rhythm. He swings fine, burns nicely, but has no ego at all. Time could be, as he once said, walking into a club on Tuesday, hitting the ride, and going back next Tuesday, and hitting it again. Drum-sounds are sounds, and colors, and ideas, and time - time not always being regular, or slow, or fast, like water isn't, and sometimes they are what we think of as familiar drumming. You might not have heard of him, but a large minority of creative drummers cite him as an influence or inspiration.

So, end of essay. This album was the beginning of my adult musical life. I can listen to Towner any time, any aspect of what he does. He never fails me. The connections between him, and the other three, and hundreds of other great and diverse players from around the world, in every style, have created a whole world of music options. Really progressive, but with different ingredients and references. And Genesis and Yes and the rest are still there, part of my diet. But please, start with Solstice, listen carefully, a few times at least, and then connect the dots to other albums, artists. Lots of us have had this "conversion".

 My Foolish Heart by TOWNER,RALPH album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.08 | 32 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.

 Ralph Towner, Wolfgang Muthspiel & Slava Grigoryan: Travel Guide by TOWNER,RALPH album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.07 | 8 ratings

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Ralph Towner, Wolfgang Muthspiel & Slava Grigoryan: Travel Guide
Ralph Towner Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Heartfelt perfection brought to light by 3 master guitarists in their own world and by their own hand.

TRAVEL GUIDE (2013) shares half and half of the composition credits by Wolfgang Muthspiel and Ralph Towner in a 10 track release. Both of course also perform plus Slava Grigoryan who closes the triangular figure.

As far as the music goes, the accurate and energetic performance skills these musicians own could only be matched with perfectly written and enticing, mostly guitar only compositions (there are some vocals somewhere), and these all come to life twice due to the richness and creative approach of two songwriters which own their own language yet play in the same field of mastery which to me as a listener delivers diversity in emotions all through the trip.

4.5 PAs stars.

 Solstice by TOWNER,RALPH album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.32 | 42 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
4.32 | 42 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
3.22 | 8 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
3.32 | 9 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
3.97 | 10 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
4.32 | 42 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 | 10 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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