"Even in the context of Towner's brilliant career, "Diary" is an outstanding album -- one of the four or five masterpieces in Towner's solo oeuvre. It's an astonishingly intimate album, almost private and hermetic as it drills down through layers of gorgeous melody to the roots of music itself in free pieces like "Entry in a Diary." This is one of the great rainy day albums of all time, featuring probing dialogues between Towner's guitar and piano, with occasional percussion. There's a tender sadness here, but there's also joy and triumph.Note: This is *early* Towner -- the same moody genius of Oregon's "Distant Hills" and "Winter Light." The oft-played "Icarus" gets a victorious reading here, with a tension between the unbridled ecstasy of the melody and Towner's fragmented attack; "Mon Enfant" is a perfect solo guitar miniature for the ages -- one can imagine Bach hearing it and musing on its delicate melancholy; "Images Unseen" and "Entry in a Diary" extend the guitar and piano landscape into free space, adding percussion, in the manner of Oregon's set-opening improvisations; and one wishes that "Ogden Road," with its poignant exchanges between Towner's inimitable crystalline guitar and his Bill Evans-style piano meditations, would go on forever.A fine introduction to Towner's solo work -- even more inward than, say, "Open Letter," if not quite as incendiary as "Solo Concert," and more intense than his later all-solo all-instruments outing, "Blue Sun." Highest recommendation."
A rainy day masterpiece.
R.Cittern | Springfield | 03/30/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I finally got hold of this Ralph Towner CD and can not be anymore pleased by it. Towner's work is dark in timbre and always pleasent and the piano and guitar duets will leave you in relaxation except for the gong work on Images Unseen. Dark Spirt is very moody and features some nice piano improv and lush accompinment of guitar. Towner gets out the 12 string for the lush but laid back piece Entry in a Diary. Images Unseen captures the mood of uneasyness and tenseness with the gong and guitar interplay. Icarus one of the most beautiful songs ever written features some lovely harmonic runs by Towner and more great solos on piano. The next two pieces that follow don't come close to Icarus and tend to me more in the classical sence but still ease the mind. Erg can really make a guitarist wonder how Towner can get all these precussive sounds out of the guitar with muting the chords and scratching the strings. Then we end with another Paul Winter Consort standard with the piano ballad Scilence of a Candle and brings one of the most insperational recordings to a close. Highly recomended."
Towner's solo orchestra ...
Far Lefkas | Balto.-WDC metro area | 12/08/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Recall first hearing Icarus back in the late 70s @the low end of the FM dial in Wash., D.C.: I was bowled over.
This wasn't just pop music anymore: this bordered on the orchestral. Later I heard Towner explain in a phone interv. that in fact he tried to infuse an orchestral quality into his guitar playing.
Icarus remains my sentimental favorite here; Ogden Road was covered later by Oregon & truly has that orchestral quality. Erg is a tour de force in guitar percussion, & Silence of a Candle is one of the most melancholy tunes there is: shimmering solo piano.
I caught on to Towner, Oregon, & the whole ECM label crowd rather late in life: this album was already six years old when I heard Icarus. But if you look for talent & creative ability in musicians, then Towner's your guy, & Diary stands out among the several granddaddies of "world" music."
William Lenihan | Rome, Italy | 02/14/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the album of music that started it all. From this one recording and the efforts from 'Trios, Solos', another ECM release of the same period - Ralph Towner single-handedly changed the scope of the improvising guitarist or multi-instrumentalist. The music Towner plays here, and his approach to the classical and 12-string guitars is like no other, and really had no precedent. The 70's were a special time for musicians who felt free enough to explore what was in the air, and indeed what was in the air in the early 70's was a rich palette of musical sounds from all corners of the earth. In this music the listener finds the beauty of jazz, folk and even pop music yet it's timeless expressivity remains beyond all musical labels, like all of Towner's music. At once, it seems like the idealized soundtrack to a time gone by but still ever-present.
Diary is collection of such perfectly composed small pieces which are so sophisticated, they deceptively seem simple. Listen to The Silence of a Candle. It alone is a small composition lesson. And Towner's playing of Mon Enfant is almost legend. This early release by one of America's great artists, documents a sentiment of a time, a feeling of unity and a sense of sustained beauty uninterrupted by the noise of the world."