Ralph Towner, Paolo Fresu Chiaroscuro Genres:Jazz, Pop An exciting new duo, of unusual instrumentation, initiated by American master guitarist Ralph Towner. Towner s acoustic guitar concept has long since absorbed and abstracted influences from baroque music, contemporary comp... more »osition, Brazilian music and jazz, above all the jazz of Bill Evans. In this programme of Towner originals and improvisations, the sole cover version is Blue In Green . the Bill Evans/Miles Davis tune from the classic Kind of Blue album an apt choice for Sardinia-born trumpeter Paolo Fresu, whose pure and elegant tone still carries echoes of early Miles. Towner s own pieces offer continually changing landscapes for Fresu s horn to grace, in a very poetic and lyrical set whose gradations of light and shade, of sound and shadows, are beautifully recorded.« less
An exciting new duo, of unusual instrumentation, initiated by American master guitarist Ralph Towner. Towner s acoustic guitar concept has long since absorbed and abstracted influences from baroque music, contemporary composition, Brazilian music and jazz, above all the jazz of Bill Evans. In this programme of Towner originals and improvisations, the sole cover version is Blue In Green . the Bill Evans/Miles Davis tune from the classic Kind of Blue album an apt choice for Sardinia-born trumpeter Paolo Fresu, whose pure and elegant tone still carries echoes of early Miles. Towner s own pieces offer continually changing landscapes for Fresu s horn to grace, in a very poetic and lyrical set whose gradations of light and shade, of sound and shadows, are beautifully recorded.
"Now that both Tomasz Stanko and Enrico Rava have returned to the label, the trumpet has become increasingly important to ECM Records. Here we are introduced to Paolo Fresu, who has led many ensembles and recorded many albums (available as imports) in his native Italy. This is his first widely distributed release in the western hemisphere, and he is teamed with classical/12-string virtuoso guitarist Ralph Towner, who also leads the chamber-jazz group Oregon, and has recently turned 70 (?!?). The two recently met at a festival in Italy, and are now performing and touring together as a duo.
So when was the last time you heard a guitar/trumpet duet? This album works brilliantly on every level despite taking a risk with an unusual pairing. Yes, this is mostly quiet, reflective, introspective, meditative music, but there is also way too much happening with both performers for it to remain placidly in the background. Towner, who has played on many of ECM's greatest albums (Matchbook, Solstice, Batik, Solo Concert, et al), contributes fleet-fingered picking on "Punta Giara", double-tracks a baritone guitar on "Sacred Place" and "Doubled Up", and recaptures throughout the classical/jazz/world/folk sound he has given us for almost 40 years of recording on the ECM label. Fresu plays both trumpet and flugelhorn, and his tone has just enough sharp edges (especially on the title-track) to avoid being dismissed as a smooth impressionist. He performs a muted tribute to Miles Davis on "Blue in Green", which receives a very different arrangement from Towner's cover with Gary Burton on 1986's Slide Show album. The album closes with 2 brief, but haunting improv pieces, "Two Miniatures" and "Postlude".
It all sounds "very ECM", and one wonders why this instrumental pairing hasn't been attempted before (or if it has, why so rarely). At 46:43, the idea is not overworked and never drifts into aimless repetitiveness. Excellent sound and booklet graphics, as always, are a given with ECM. Highly recommended for late-night listening, and for those looking for something different."
UTTER JAZZ STARDUST
DAVID HALL | USA | 04/20/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"CHIAROSCURO is a brand new 2010 Jazz album that is absolutely first rate in every aspect. The artists are Ralph Towner (guitar), and Paolo Fresu (trumpet) - musical soulmates. There is an elegance, an exquisite taste and economy purring throughout this entire album that threw me for a loop. I'm big on 'less is more' when it comes to my musical preferences, particularly Jazz, and this completely unexpected musical gem has soared to the top of the list of my listening pleasures. All but one of the selections on the c.d. are Towner compositions, the one exception being the cover of Blue In Green by Bill Evans. Of course, the one on Kind of Blue will perhaps always be the quintessential version of the song, and yet the one on this album has a serene majesty second to none. One of the songs on the album is reprised. That one is Sacred Place, and its ravishing, gorgeous. Getting the impression I'm crazy about this album? I am, indeed. I discovered/sampled/purchased this album via, and thanks to, Amazon. Most highly recommended."
Textures evocative of memories beyond words.
Azoic | Portland, Oregon United States | 03/29/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Up front,I must say that I am a long-time ECM devotee.This is not new age music.It is beyond -and it gets nearer to what it means to be human than any other cd I've heard for years.This is intelligent music for the heart.Towner's masterpiece.Indispensible."
Brian | Seattle | 04/11/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"THis is another in a long line of Ralph's pairings that continues the tradition. Beautiful."
Ralph sounds better than ever with his new baritone guitar!
Jorge Squarzon | Argentina | 06/04/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I own practically all of Ralph Towner's recordings and was not sure about this one. A good portion of the tunes are standard Towner/Oregon repertoire. I went to the concert in San Francisco a few weeks ago and was, once again, blown away by the sound. Elegant, full of harmony, playful, clean, the music "sings" here. To those of us that play guitar, it seems impossible that so much can be done with six strings on the classical guitar. The addition of the baritone guitar is fantastic. A much deeper, lower tone does wonders to these tunes. I just fell in love with the instrument! Towner is a national treasure, the most humble of guys. He's happy to talk to you anytime, about anything from music to his move to Rome, to getting rid of the house in Seattle. Do yourself a favor, get this CD, AND go see him next time he comes to town, either solo, or with Oregon. Five stars!"