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Ralph Towner delivers guitar soliloquies


Ralph Towner, "My Foolish Heart" (ECM)

Ralph Towner has, decades now, been one of the unquestioned jazz venerables. This is his sixth solo guitar record for ECM since the label first recorded Oregon, the exquisite chamber classical/jazz group he was so essential to.

He is articulate and revealing on his playing of the standard that gives the record its name: " 'My Foolish Heart.' The title song of this album had an immeasurable impact on my musical life, as it did with many of my colleagues in the world of jazz and improvisation. The seminal version, played by Bill Evans, Scott LeFaro and Paul Motian set me on a course to try to attain the magic of this trio in my own attempts to play the piano and, later, on the classical guitar which became my principal instrument ... I hope I've continued to use the inspiration I gained from that first encounter in all the music I play."

You couldn't ask for a better testament to the living influence of Evans than that. The rest of the disc is composed of Towner originals, including "Blue as in Bey," a tribute to pianist Paul Bley which he plays on 12-string. Two of the disc's pieces, "Shard" and "Rewind," are from the wonderful early repertoire of Oregon.

These are guitar soliloquies from one the instrument's most eloquent masters.

3 stars (out of four)




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