!!! NEW album AT FIRST LIGHT be out on ECM !!!
An ECM artist for his entire musical career, US guitarist Ralph Towner has built up a unique body of work in his recordings for the label. Central to his oeuvre are his solo albums, the first of which, Diary, was issued 50 years ago. At First Light extends this great tradition, drawing inspiration from a broad palette of music. “My solo recordings have always included my own compositions in which there are trace elements of the many composers and musicians that have attracted me,” writes Towner in a liner note, citing the influence of, among others, George Gershwin, John Coltrane, John Dowland and Bill Evans: “I feel that At First Light is a good example of shaping this expanse 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 Auditorio Stelio Molo RSI, Lugano, in February 2022, At First Light was produced by Manfred Eicher.
Beautiful nylon-string stylings from jazz maestro Ralph Towner is one of those artists who defies pigeonholing. Although his music shelters under the umbrella-term 'jazz; there really is so much more to it than that. At times it veers towards modern classical music, compositionally speaking, and at others it pursues the mainstream with interpretations of Great American Songbook standards. "My solo recordings have always included my own compositions in which there are trace elements of the many composers and musicians that have attracted me." he says in the liner notes of At First Light. He goes on to cite some diverse influences such as sax legend John Coltrane and Renaissance composer John Dowland. It's in tracks such as Ubi Sunt that it's possible to hear the coming together of these influences. Classically flavoured solo nylon-string impeccably performed, the whole album is a joy to behold. [DM, Guitarist_April2023[94)
Ralph Towner may be physically alone on his album, yet he has the ghostly accompaniment of many forebears, as he explains in the CD booklet. He plays classical guitar here, but has a background in trumpet and piano, and his originals have “trace elements” of everyone from John Dowland to John Coltrane. Tunes such as Flow, Argentinian Nights and Empty Stage hover between bittersweet melancholy and seen-it-all serenity, while Guitarra Piccante and Hoagy Carmichael’s Little Old Lady are terpsichorean toe-tappers. The best piece is probably the simplest, a take on Danny Boy where
he makes the most of every beautiful note. - Chris Pearson, The Times, 16.6.2023
Dieses Soloalbum gibt Ralph Towner alle Freiheiten, sich durch seine Einflüsse hindurch zu arbeiten und sie feinsinnig in die Gegenwart zu holen. "At First Light" zeigt einen legendären amerikanischen Musiker, der Jazzgeschichte mit geschrieben hat (oft beim deutschen Label ECM), auf der Höhe seines Schaffens. Und wie schafft Ralph Towner es nur, das Morgenlicht in seiner Musik zu transportieren, so dass dieses komplex meisterhafte Werk den Moment tatsächlich aufhellt? (Mauretta Heinzelmann, „Jazzalbum der Woche“, 31.3.2023, NDR.de/kultur)