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Ralph TownerAudio CD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

Price: $11.88 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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MP3 Music, 17 Songs, 2001 $11.49  
Audio CD, 2001 $11.88  

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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
listen  1. Solitary Woman 6:56$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  2. Anthem 4:56$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  3. Haunted 3:08$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  4. The Lutemaker 4:20$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  5. Simone 6:02$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  6. Gloria's Step 2:51$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  7. Four Comets I 1:09$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  8. Four Comets II 1:12$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  9. Four Comets III 1:02$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen10. Four Comets IV0:49$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen11. Raffish 4:14$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen12. Very Late 4:03$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen13. The Prowler 5:00$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen14. Three Comments I 1:36$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen15. Three Comments II0:31$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen16. Three Comments III0:52$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen17. Goodbye, Pork-Pie Hat 1:55$1.29  Buy MP3 

Amazon's Ralph Towner Store


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Chiaroscuro introduces a new duo and a rare instrumental combination – trumpet and acoustic guitar. The repertoire: a program of old and new Ralph Towner compositions and duo improvisations, plus an old Miles Davis favorite, its presence a key to the musical priorities at work here.

The album was recorded in October 2008 in Udine, but the story of the Towner/Fresu alliance really ... Read more in Amazon's Ralph Towner Store

Visit Amazon's Ralph Towner Store
for 32 albums, 5 photos, discussions, and more.

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Frequently Bought Together

Anthem + Open Letter + Travel Guide
Price for all three: $44.17

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  • Open Letter $17.85
  • Travel Guide $14.44

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 13, 2001)
  • Original Release Date: 2001
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Ecm Records
  • ASIN: B000059OB9
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,461 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

Ralph Towner is a guitarist's guitarist, and a whole generation of finger-pickers have absorbed his merging of classical technique, jazz voicings, and genre-defying improvisation. Usually heard with his chamber jazz group, Oregon, Towner has also kept a solo career going ever since the early 1970s. Anthem is his first purely solo recording since Ana in 1996. From the opening ballad, "Solitary Woman," Towner is at the height of his power with this haunting rumination that has a Renaissance air about it. Towner's classical background has always informed his music, but his fusion with jazz is inseparable. You can hear the influence of Antonio Carlos Jobim on "Haunted" and that of Bill Evans, a Towner touchstone, on "Gloria's Step," written by one-time Evans bassist Scott LaFaro. On "Simone," Towner captures the sultry yet imperious phrasing of Nina Simone. As a guitarist who plays with such precise and intricate technique, Towner can come off dry and cerebral at times, but in a music where it's often difficult to tell where composition leaves off and improvisation begins, he usually keeps you guessing. --John Diliberto

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite, Of Course, But More of the Same March 23, 2001
Format:Audio CD
It's hard to fault this album: Towner's playing on this solo guitar recording is exquisite, full of sensitivity, quiet passion, and an "almost Asian sense of balance," as a New York Times critic put it sometime ago. There is no doubt that this is music that will be listened to in 500 years -- after three decades of fine recordings like this, Towner has practically become his own idiom, his own "classical" music.
"Solitary Woman" is a retitling of "Alia's Theme" from Towner's wonderful soundtrack to the Italian film "Un Altra Vita," and this is an excellent, brooding version. The reading of the great Scott LaFaro tune "Gloria's Step" is likewise sublime, even if it doesn't add much to the version Towner recorded on the Oregon album "Moon and Mind." Similarly, "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" is all well and good, but doesn't add more than Towner's intimitable control and subtlety to the hundreds of covers of this tune. The sound here, of course, is the total top-drawer ECM diamond-cutter treatment, with every harmonic and heart-rending shading glittering and precise. Any lover of solo guitar music should love this record -- and fans of, say, Bach's lute music should give it a listen if they want to expand into contemporary territory.
So, why didn't I give it the five stars it would deserve, if judged against anyone else's recordings? Because it's slightly boring, my friends. Towner's last ECM venture was another solo guitar excursion, "Ana," which I also found a bit enervated. I'm not prejudiced against solo guitar music -- Towner's "Solo Concert" is one of my favorite albums; but compared to "Solo Concert," "Anthem" seems a little tired and precious.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
Perhaps the quintessential Towner solo guitar album - though fans of Ana and Solo Concert may disagree - this features some of the most virtuosic playing and heartfelt music of his career. It has revealed surprises and new delights with repeated listening. More varied in spirit and dynamic than the others, with dazzling finger style runs and unique, heartfelt melodies and voicings, age has been more than kind to this artist - without losing what has been essentially his voice, he has grown and even developed in mastery of the instument. And for those who refer to this as "cerebral" music - I must say this is precisely the opposite - aesthetic, felt to the sublest nuance and requiring thought FROM the LISTENER to hear how he has, in his own words, brought the whole piano trio to the guitar - perhaps the least cerebral, though most inward and inviting, solo instrumental work crossing genres one is likely to find. A gem.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review from Jazzmatazz at ... March 31, 2001
Format:Audio CD
On his fourth solo recording for the ECM label, Ralph Towner demonstrates the power of understatement. Playing only classical or 12-string guitar, he takes advantage of ECM's close-miked recording techniques to make every nuance of his playing count. Even the sound of his fingers sliding along the guitar strings is clearly audible in this extremely intimate performance. Towner masterfully manipulates the dynamics of his playing to create both drama and emotion in his music. Rather than introduce a song with a flourish, the guitarist draws the listener in with a whisper. Likewise, he wastes little time on stating the obvious. On the only two non-original compositions, Scott LaFaro's "Gloria Step" and Charles Mingus' "Goodbye, Pork Pie Hat," Towner begins his improvisations almost immediately without bothering to state much of each tune's familiar melodies. In his own compositions, Towner blurs the distinctions between writing and playing even further. While his interest in both classical and folk music is obvious in his formidable technique and dancing melodies, it is often difficult to say exactly where his composing ends and his improvisations begin or to untangle his overlapping melodies. Towner creates an intricate and compelling universe of sound that carries the listener along with an easy but irresistible momentum. It is a journey that is well worth taking with him.
For more jazz reviews, go to Jazzmatazz at ...
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Essential Towner September 26, 2005
Format:Audio CD
Ralph Towner can be a difficult artist to approach - often introverted, highly improvisational and complex - and solo guitar collections are somewhat of a specialty area in any case, so this album is perhaps not for everybody. It is, however, one of Towner's crowning achievements and one of the great solo guitar works of our times.

Compared to guitarists like Pat Metheny, whose music seems firmly rooted in accessible jazz or rock traditions, Towner can be hard to get a handle on. The currents that merge in his strange and beautiful playing range from to Maurice Ravel to Charlie Mingus. Older listeners will recall the ethereal sound of his 1970's group, Solstice, and the recordings he made with Keith Jarrett and Jan Garbarek, as some of the most abstract and exploratory jazz of the period. Reviewers often found themselves puzzled as to what exactly to say about such music, and it is not for every listener.

This solo album showcases Towner's matured compositional talent, and presents a succession of (for Towner) astonishingly rounded and accessible pieces. It opens with two glorious, accomplished anthems which will probably end up in the concert repertoire of many classical guitarists.

"Solitary Woman," for 12-string, is a majestic progression like a stately dance, with a haunting, recurring theme of ascending and descending chords. Hard not to see it as a defining moment in the development of solo guitar music.

"Anthem," for nylon string guitar, harks back to the 19th Century, with Spanish influences (Sor or Tarrega). Towner performs the virtuoso miracle of making six little nylon strings sound like an orchestra, and one wonders whether this piece won't end up being scored and performed by orchestral or jazz groups.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Towner solo masterpiece .
This is probably the best ever , at today , solo album from Raph Towner .
If you like introspective music , chamber like classical and twelwe impro , taste and wonderful sound... Read more
Published on February 5, 2009 by lingua fabio
3.0 out of 5 stars Some magic, some sleeping potion
I was looking for more of the remarkable 12-string guitar playing found on "I sing the body electric" (Weather Report), and there is a bit (although I suspect helped along with... Read more
Published on November 16, 2007 by Dilettante
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Excellent Recording, but....
Just to echo much of what the other reviews here have already written: this is easily a 5-star recording. Read more
Published on April 23, 2005 by Phasedin
5.0 out of 5 stars A Lovely & Enchanting Album
I've been listening to Ralph Towner (and Oregon) for more than twenty years now. He is a gifted pianist and acoustic guitar player. Read more
Published on October 13, 2001 by Steve Vrana
5.0 out of 5 stars Another in a string of consistently excellent albums
Playing solo is a daunting task. The soloist has to create and sustain musical interest without overplaying or self-indulgent noodling. Read more
Published on August 6, 2001 by Matthew Hayden
3.0 out of 5 stars Slightly Surprising
This recording is a surprisingly weak follow-up to its superb predecessor, ANA. With the exception of the very striking composition "Anthem", the writing here seems... Read more
Published on May 30, 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars Is this Ralph Towner's masterpiece?
Ralph Towner is musician of consummate technical skill whose compositions blend classical clarity with engaging melodies and uncommonly modern chord progressions. Read more
Published on May 28, 2001 by Echolucent
5.0 out of 5 stars Better and Better
Perhaps the quintessential Towner solo guitar album - though fans of Ana and Solo Concert may disagree - this CD features some of the most virtuosic playing and heartfelt music of... Read more
Published on May 15, 2001 by D. J. Sapen
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