Ralph Towner with Glen Moore: Trios/Solos (ECM 1025)

ECM 1025

Ralph Towner with Glen Moore

Ralph Towner guitar, piano
Glen Moore bass
Paul McCandless oboe
Collin Walcott tabla
Recorded November 27/28, 1972 at Sound Ideas Studio, New York City
Engineer: George Klabin
Produced by Manfred Eicher

Essentially an Oregon album under a different name, Trios/Solos consists mainly of Ralph Towner originals culled from the group’s Vanguard sessions. The opening “Brujo” is anchored by Towner’s twelve mighty strings and the late Collin Walcott’s tabla stylings, leaving a winding crevice through which Glen Moore works his whimsical bass. “Noctuary” features Paul McCandless on oboe, soaring loosely through the Towner/Moore fulcrum before the trio ties itself into a tightly improvised not. The Bill Evans tune “Re: Person I Knew” stands out in a gorgeous rendition. Towner doubles on piano and 12-string—laying down a sound that would soon crystallize into his classic ECM album Solstice—as Moore lurks in the background. “Raven’s Wood” continues the same configuration, only this time with nylon, darkening its pastoral modality with nocturnal visions.

Despite the intimate wonders of these trios, the album’s titular solos abound with some of its most focused and furthest-reaching moments. Moore’s “A Belt Of Asteroids” is a curious one at that. Seeming at first out of place in its present company, it carefully peels open the album’s outer layers with every twang. The remainders feature Towner doing what he does best. Take the compact “Suite: 3×12,” a carefully thought out composition in which his palpable picking and love for harmonics shines through at every turn, not to mention his consistently progressive energy. The last of the three movements is more aggressive in its attack and wound around a precise rhythmic core. “Winter Light” is heavily steeped in 6-string nostalgia, lonely but content in its solitude. “1×12” is, by contrast, a run along a blazing trail. Lastly, we have “Reach Me, Friend,” a snapshot of expectation that breathes with audible resolve.

As the driving force behind the album, Towner’s technique is mellifluous as usual, forging an aerial sound that constantly surveys the untouched lakes shimmering below like mirrors in the brilliance of his execution. Despite the lush performances throughout, the imagery is all so viscerally sere. And while there is no danger in what we see, there remains a threat unseen, lingering just beyond the horizon, quelled only by the arrival of the morning sun.

<< Gary Burton/Chick Corea: Crystal Silence (ECM 1024)
>> Stanley Cowell Trio: Illusion Suite (ECM 1026)

2 thoughts on “Ralph Towner with Glen Moore: Trios/Solos (ECM 1025)

  1. L’esordio di Towner con l’etichetta bavarese profetizza i fasti di una carriera vissuta all’insegna dell’arte per amore dell’arte. Annoverabile tra i classici della ECM, Trios / Solos è a tutti gli effetti un disco degli Oregon, anche se pubblicato con una diversa intestazione per non violare il contratto esclusivo con la Vanguard. L’inedita fusione di ingredienti jazz, residui accademici e aromi orientali fermenta su due splendidi pezzi in trio: Brujo, ¾ di Oregon col leader accompagnato da Glen Moore (contrabbasso) e Collin Walcott (tabla); Raven’s Wood, bucolico tema esposto dall’oboe di Paul McCandless e ripreso anni dopo sullo stupendo Violin. Ma il talento del chitarrista risalta anche su alcune memorabili fughe solitarie: Winter Light, melodia crepuscolare che ispirerà il titolo dell’omonimo album in quartetto (Winter Light); Re: Person I Knew, sublime pagina di Bill Evans riletta sovraincidendo chitarra e piano; 1 x 12 e Suite: 3 x 12, plastiche evoluzioni con la dodici corde acustica; Reach Me, Friend, toccante dissolvenza sottolineata da un’evocativa eco latina. Dati i tempi, è possibile che qualcuno ancora non conosca Ralph Towner: i novizi partano da qui … non si fermeranno più.

  2. Probably one of my most favorite ECM Ralph Towner albums fantastic, excellent recording as per the ECM sound I bought this is an import and to this day. It sounds fantastic. Almost 50 years later

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