TAS Rated 5/5 Music, 5/5 Sonics in the July/August 2023 Issue of The Absolute Sound!
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An ECM artist for his entire musical career, U.S. 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.
A conservatory-trained pianist, [Towner] treats the nylon-string instrument like a keyboard, offering crystalline chord voicings amid punchy bass notes and poignant single-string runs and counterpoint....At First Light is at once meditative and intimate. It is, as usual, intricately played, offering listeners a statement that is equal parts soulful reflection and masterful, swinging precision.
Sharing the subtly shaded string tone, harmonic invention, and improvisatory logic that make Towner's playing as compelling as that of any flashier guitar hero, every piece tells a unique story in a different syntax. You'll hear funk, blues, echoes of Spain, Argentina, and India; I can't imagine how, if you're at all a guitar fan, you would ever lose interest. Indeed, after 44 minutes, you'll be wanting more.
- Vinyl LP
- Made in Germany
|Ralph Towner||classical guitar|
- Make Someone Happy
- Ubi Sunt
- Guitarra Piccante
- At First Light
- Danny Boy
- Fat Foot
- Argentinian Nights
- Little Old Lady
- Empty Stage