Ralph Towner Solo

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March 2024

The American guitarist Ralph Towner, who worked for ECM throughout his solo musical career, has created a unique work with his recordings for the label. The focus of his work is his solo albums, the first of which, Diary, was released 50 years ago.

»At First Light« continues this great tradition and draws inspiration from a wide range of music. “My solo recordings have always included my own compositions in which traces of the many composers and musicians who have attracted me can be found,” writes Towner in a liner note, citing, among others, the influence of George Gershwin, John Coltrane, John Dowland and others Bill Evans: "I feel like 'At First Light' is a good example of how I incorporate this variety of influences into my personal music." In addition to his own pieces, Towner also plays Hoagy Carmichael's "Little Old Lady", Jule Styne's "Make Someone Happy" and the traditional tune "Danny Boy."

Recorded at the Auditorio Stelio Molo RSI, Lugano, in February 2022, “At First Light” was produced by Manfred Eicher. (press release)

»...​.​.​rich in delicate melodies [.​.​.​] Even the traditional “Danny Boy” sounds completely new after Towner’s virtuoso treatment.​« (STEREO, May 2023)

»It is fascinating [.​.​.​] how he replaces what has just been played with new variations or other themes, how he falls from fonissimo to pianissimo and exploits the sound possibilities.​ Wonderful.​« (stereoplay, May 2023)

Ralph Towner, guitarist and co-founder of the group Oregon. The multi-instrumentalist (in addition to guitar, he plays piano, synthesizer, trumpet and percussion) has had an extraordinary career. Born in 1940, he started playing the piano at the age of 3, began studying music at the University of Oregon at the age of 18 - initially with the trumpet - and held a guitar in his hands for the first time at the comparatively advanced age of 22. In 1963 and 1967 he went to Vienna for a year and studied with the classical guitarist Karl Scheit.
Back in the States, he worked as a pianist and guitarist in New York and in 1970 became a member of the Paul Winter Consort, an unusually instrumented group with cello and oboe. Here he exclusively plays the 12-string guitar and gets to know Glenn Moore, Colin Walcott and Paul McCandless. A momentous encounter, because two years later these four founded the Quartet Oregon, a highly versatile ensemble in the field of tension between European chamber music, world music and jazz. Since then, Ralph Towner has made a long series of recordings as a soloist, as a sideman and together with Oregon, received the "Downbeat's critics" poll in 1974 and won a Grammy with Oregon for the album 'Ecotopia'. He enjoys the greatest respect from listeners and fellow musicians alike and is one of the guitar flagships of the Munich label ECM. (Press release)

Program and cast

Ralph Towner: guitar, piano

PORGY & BESS Jazzclub

Porgy & Bess (actually, Jazz and Music Club Porgy & Bess ) is a jazz club in the Riemergasse 11 in the 1st district of Vienna. The club , founded in 1993 is considered " the most important jazz organizer and trendy meeting point " of the Austrian capital .

The program of Porgy & Bess speaks to a very large audience , about 70,000 guests a year ; is accordingly Jazz " understood very pluralistic ," and the program " even in fringe areas , such as electronic music , contemporary music and world music penetrated . " Many international artists , particularly from the U.S. space , see also Austrian musician here an opportunity to perform . The club also offers the stage for events, such as the award of the Austrian World Music Award.

Musicologist Christian Scheib According to the Porgy & Bess " at the same time essential for the development of the musical ( jazz ) reality of a City" and needs and uses ' plain commonplace as urban space music. " It creates itself " through artistic preferences, acoustic quality , capacity and real capacity, the necessary exclusion of other clubs. " Here, the different areas of the jazz clubs allow - the area in front of the stage with tables, upstairs gallery , a lateral area with a bar at counter - different intense concentration on the concert scene . For Jazzthetik Porgy & Bess is even a " traditional club . "

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