Festival Internacional JAZZMADRID
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Ralph Towner © John Cronin

Ralph Towner

Oficial Concerts

F 10 Nov
Caja de Música · 19.00 h · How to get there
  • Reduced mobility

Widely known as a guitarist, this multi-instrumentalist from the United States would nevertheless find it hard to break into the usual commercial circuits, despite a professional career stretching back more than sixty years and a string of important performances such as those recorded with the Oregon Band at New York’s Lincoln Center, the Berlin Philharmonic Hall, Vienna’s Mozartsaal and Carnegie Hall. Not to mention his appearances at such major jazz festivals as Newport, Montreal and Berlin.

Ralph Towner’s visit to JAZZMADRID is a declaration of principles. This veteran musician is one of the most representative examples of a model of musical renewal, whose conduct, always open to the widest cultural exchanges, has been at the forefront of contemporary instrumental creation for more than six decades. And always with the firm determination not to be subjected to any predetermined aesthetic, not even to that of jazz, a style from which Towner clearly draws his greatest creative strength.

Ever since he made his first public appearances in the 1960s, Ralph Towner has clearly displayed all the characteristics of a school and forms that have ensured the continuity of his original work. A sonorous pandemonium inspired by an enormous variety of traditional colours and echoes (paying particular attention to those from the East), all overlaid with a hygienic and erudite commitment to forms that are very close to those of European chamber music.

Which is perhaps not surprising, given that Towner studied classical guitar in Vienna with Karl Scheit, and played in classical ensembles from 1964 to 1966. In 1966, however, the chance to replace Larry Coryell in a Seattle-based jazz band came his way, and from that moment on, his dedication to this music was notorious. Sessions and public appearances alongside Dave Holland, Jimmy Garrison, Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Keith Jarrett and Gato Barbieri followed, until, together with Glenn Moore, he decided to accompany singer-songwriter Tim Hardin at a concert in Woodstock in 1968. He went on to join saxophonist Paul Winter’s Consort and, thanks to him, took up the twelve-string guitar. After recording with Weather Report – alongside Glenn Moore, Colin Walcott and Paul McCandless – he set up Oregon, the flagship group of world jazz.

Fifty-two years have elapsed since then and Ralph Towner’s career has continued to flourish with each new album. As a guitarist, the musician is a master of sound, and when he sits down at the piano, his style reveals the legacy of Bill Evans. He now presents an album he released earlier this year called At First Light. Playing mainly classical guitar, Towner, as always, pays attention to his own creations, but he also revisits songs by Hoagy Carmichael, Jule Styne or the traditional Danny Boy. This album holds many surprises, but they will all be revealed to his fans as they listen attentively to his concert. A remarkable privilege.

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