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Ralph Towner — Lost And Found

Ralph Towner — Lost And Found (1996) {ECM 1563}  Ralph Towner — Lost And Found (1996) {ECM 1563}
Birth name: Ralph Towner
Born: 1 March 1940, Chehalis, Washington, United States
Genre: Jazz, Post–Bop, Ethnic Fusion
Album release: 1996
Record Label: ECM
01. Harbinger      2:36
02. Trill Ride      3:00
03. Elan Vital      6:19
04. Summer's End      5:12
05. Col Legno      3:15
06. Soft Landing      2:16
07. Flying Cows      4:56
08. Mon Enfant      4:04
09. A Breath Away      5:15
10. Scrimshaw      1:27
11. Midnight Blue ... Red Shift      3:24
12. Moonless      4:37
13. Sco Cone      3:44
14. Tattler      3:06
15. Taxi's Waiting      4:34
©℗ 1996 ECM Records GmbH
Composed by:
♠   Ralph Towner     1, 3, 4, 9, 10, 14, 15
♠   Marc Johnson, Ralph Towner     2, 12
♠   Marc Johnson     5, 13
♠   Denney Goodhew, Marc Johnson, Ralph Towner     6
♠   Denney Goodhew     7, 11
♠   Anon.*     8
♠   Ralph Towner — classical and 12–string guitars
♠   Marc Johnson — double–bass
♠   Denney Goodhew — sopranino, soprano and baritone saxophones, bass clarinet
♠   Jon Christensen — drums
Recorded: May 1995 at Rainbow Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
◊   Produced by Manfred Eicher
◊   Allan Titmuss photography (liner photo)
◊   Caroline Forbes (cover photo)
◊   Barbara Wojirsch Cover DesignAllMusic Review by Thom Jurek;  Score: ★★★★
★   This 1995 date shows guitarist and composer Ralph Towner in estimable form. For a guy who's released literally dozens of records under his own name and with his band Oregon and played on dozens more, he still seems to have plenty to say with only two guitars in his arsenal (well, there was the period where he used a Prophet Five synthesizer with Oregon, but we won't go into that here). Using familiar (Marc Johnson and Jon Christensen) and new (Denny Goodhew) faces, Towner goes searching for that elusive muse he has been pursuing for over 30 years: the root of what makes complex harmonic and melodic improvisation possible. His relentlessness is in fine shape here.
★   2001 was a difficult year. Aside from the tragic political tightrope we all were walking, I’d just come out of a relationship for which I’d uprooted myself, was now living in a place where I knew no one, and had taken to spending much of my time making friends online. One of these — an artist and socialite from Bali — and I became especially close through a shared love of music. At the time, the dividing cell culture that was my CD collection boasted about 1000 albums (400 of which were ECM), hers twice as much. One day I casually mentioned to her that I was listening to Ralph Towner’s Lost And Found. There was a pause in our chat window before she admitted that she’d been listening to the very same. Since then Lost And Found has lodged itself in my memory through the sheer (im)probability of this coincidence.
★   The music is equally rich with coincidence, drawing intersections between Towner’s classical and 12–string guitars, Marc Johnson’s upright, Jon Christensen’s palette of the drum, and the many reeds of Denney Goodhew in a surprise appearance — his first (and last) for the label since 1981’s First Avenue. Compositional credits are fairly well spread over fifteen dreamy tracks, with Towner taking half. The rounded insistence of “Harbinger,” for one, is a welcome introduction to his unique solo language, while the full quartet sound of “Élan Vital” pulls its simple carriage through a chain of emotional way stations. “Scrimshaw,” for another, describes his art in another word, for like its namesake it is a quiet and etching pursuit. Towner blows this dust into “Midnight Blue…Red Shift,” among an eclectic dash of Goodhew tunes that also includes his jaunty “Flying Cows” (insight into the cover’s land-bound pig, perhaps?). Johnson’s contributions are some of the session’s deepest. Whether it’s the shimmering refractions of “Col Legno” or the homeless groove of “Sco Cone,” his bare presence speaks to Towner’s all–inclusiveness. In the end, though, the guitarist’s waters run purest, flowing through descriptive scenes like “Tattler” on the way to “Taxi’s Waiting,” thereby ending the set with everyone accounted for.
★   An album to take on the road, for it is a road in and of itself — one that bridges gaps of solitude and, to this soul at least, whispers a small hope that we might all still be connected in this fallen age.                                           © Ralph Towner © P.Soriani
★   Musical innovation is no easy feat. It not only requires an innate talent, but also a devotion to the art that is not blinded by the commercial glare of the popular culture. Ralph Towner is such an innovator on the modern musical landscape, his ideas ever fresh, though they span a career of more than thirty years.
★   Best known as the lead composer, guitarist, and keyboardist for the acoustic jazz ensemble "Oregon", Towner has also had a rich and varied solo career that has seen fruitful and memorable musical collaboration with such great modern musicians as Gary Burton, John Abercrombie, Egberto Gismonti, Larry Coryell, Keith Jarrett, Jan Garbarek, and Gary Peacock.
★   Towner was born in Chehalis, Washington on March 1st, 1940 into a musical family, his mother a piano teacher and his father a trumpet player. Towner and his siblings were raised in a nurturing and empowering environment that encouraged free musical experimentation and expression. In 1958, Towner enrolled in the University of Oregon as an art major, later changing his major to composition. He soon thereafter met bassist Glen Moore who would become a lifelong musical partner in the band Oregon.
★   It was about this time that Towner discovered the early LPs of Bill Evans, whom Towner emulated and whose influence he began to incorporate into his own piano style and composition. It was not much longer until Towner also bought a classical guitar on a lark and became entranced enough with the instrument that the early 1960s saw him heading to Vienna to study classical guitar with Karl Scheit. In 1968 Towner moved to New York City and immersed himself in the New York jazz scene, eventually landing a position with the Paul Winter Consort where the friendships and musical partnering with Glen Moore, Paul McCandless, and Collin Walcott were forged, a musical chemistry which was destined to alchemize into the band Oregon. Paul Winter also bestowed Towner with his first 12–string guitar. Towner has since coaxed the 12–string into imbuing his work with such a characteristic uniqueness that most jazz fans, given the two keywords "12–string" and "jazz" would immediately blurt the name Ralph Towner.
★   Towner’s working relationship with producer Manfred Eicher of ECM Records began in 1972 and would provide a forum for his growth as a leader and collaborator with other jazz giants, all while concomitantly breaking open musical frontiers with Oregon throughout the intervening years. ECM’s roster of low–volume acts was decidedly contrary to the amplified popular zeitgeist of the era, and provided Towner an opportunity to connect and create with some of the more iconoclastic and innovative artists of the musical culture in the 1970s. Towner’s ECM years also saw his most minimalist, yet most bold, endeavor. “Solo Concert”, released in 1980 on ECM, was conceptually elemental, a solo live guitar recital. Yet, no one to date had ever synthesized classical contrapuntal composition with improvisational and oddly–metered jazz like this before, especially in such a risky arena as a live performance. Such solo work would later become Towner’s signature on recordings such as "Ana" and "Anthem", or augmented only by Gary Peacock’s bass on "Oracle" and "A Closer View".
★   Like any true artist, however, experimentation with technology was simultaneously and paradoxically leading Towner away from this bare–bones approach to composition and performance in 1983 when he began to incorporate the Prophet 5 keyboard synthesizer into his compositions, both with Oregon and his ECM recordings. The Prophet 5 afforded an entirely new dimension to his writing, as well as to the brazen and quirky character of the "free-form" improvisatory pieces for which Oregon had become infamous.
★   Just as Towner’s solo career has seen evolution, his partnership with Oregon would likewise undergo transformations as one might anticipate that any enduring relationship might do. Sadly, in 1984, percussionist Collin Walcott and manager Jo Härting were killed in Germany in a collision involving Oregon’s tour bus. Towner and McCandless escaped serious injury in the back of the vehicle. The emotional scars would however be deep, and it at first seemed doubtful that Walcott’s critical contribution to Oregon’s musical tapestry, lost so tragically, could ever be resurrected by any replacement. Time would luckily find that the intent of Oregon’s musical message was vehement enough to again find spontaneous expression after grief. Two subsequent world–class percussionists of a like mind, and gifted with rhythmic virtuosity, Trilok Gurtu in 1992 and Mark Walker in 1997, would share in and expand on Oregon’s vision. That vision would explode in an epic way in 2000 upon release of "Oregon in Moscow", an orchestral double–CD recorded with the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra, earning the ensemble four Grammy nominations.
Website: http://www.ralphtowner.com/
Website: http://denneygoodhew.com/
★   Trios / Solos (ECM, 1972) — with Glen Moore
★   Diary (ECM, 1974)
★   Matchbook (ECM, 1975) — with Gary Burton
★   Solstice (ECM, 1975)
★   Sargasso Sea (ECM, 1976) — with John Abercrombie
★   Solstice/Sound and Shadows (ECM, 1977)
★   Batik (ECM, 1978)
★   Old Friends, New Friends (ECM, 1979)
★   Solo Concert (ECM, 1979)
★   Five Years Later (ECM, 1982) — with John Abercrombie
★   Blue Sun (ECM, 1983)
★   Slide Show (ECM, 1986) — with Gary Burton
★   City of Eyes (ECM, 1989)
★   Open Letter (ECM, 1992)
★   Oracle (ECM, 1994) — with Gary Peacock
★   A Closer View (ECM, 1995 [1998]) — with Gary Peacock
★   Lost and Found (ECM, 1996)
★   Ana (ECM, 1997)
★   If Summer Had Its Ghosts (1997) — with Bill Bruford & Eddie Gómez
★   Anthem (ECM, 2001)
★   Time Line (ECM, 2006)
★   From a Dream (Material, 2008) — with Slava Grigoryan and Wolfgang Muthspiel
★   Chiaroscuro (ECM, 2009) — with Paolo Fresu
★   Travel Guide (ECM, 2013) — with Slava Grigoryan and Wolfgang Muthspiel
With Paul Winter Consort:
★   Road (A&M Records, 1970)
★   Icarus (Epic Records, 1972)
With Oregon:
★   Our First Record (recorded 1970, first released 1980)
★   Music Of Another Present Era (1973)
★   Distant Hills (1973)
★   Winter Light (1974)
★   In Concert (1975)
★   Together (with drummer Elvin Jones) (1976)
★   Friends (1977)
★   Violin (with violinist Zbigniew Seifert) (1978)
★   Out Of The Woods (1978)
★   Moon And Mind (1979)
★   Roots In The Sky (1979)
★   In Performance (1980)
★   Essential (Collection) (1981)
★   Oregon (1983)
★   Crossing (1985)
★   Ecotopia (1987)
★   45th Parallel (1989)
★   Always, Never And Forever (1992)
★   Troika (1993)
★   Beyond Words (Collection) (1995)
★   Northwest Passage (1997)
★   A Midsummer Night Dream (1998)
★   Oregon In Moscow (with orchestra) (2000)
★   Live At Yoshi’s (2002)
★   Prime (2005)
★   The Glide (2005)
★   Vanguard Visionaries (Collection) (2007)
★   1000 Kilometers (2007)
★   In Stride (2010)
★   Family Tree (2012)
With Weather Report:
★   I Sing the Body Electric (Columbia, 1972)
With Larry Coryell:
★   The Restful Mind (ECM, 1975)
With Egberto Gismonti:
★   Sol Do Meio Dia (ECM, 1978)
With Vince Mendoza:
★   Instructions Inside (1991)
With Mike Mainieri:
★   Come Together: Guitar Tribute To The Beatles (1995)



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