Ralph Towner, Solo at Jazz Standard Tonight

Morning and night, morning and night. For the last few weeks at our house, the start and finish of the day’s events have been soundtracked by Ralph Towner’s solo work on ECM, specifically 2017’s ‘My Foolish Heart’ and its decade-older predecessor, ‘Time Line.’ Once upon a time I occasionally groused that the esteemed guitar OG could be a tad precious or a bit drifty in certain settings, but these recitals, especially ‘My Foolish Heart,’ are all about the kind of focus that arrives when inspired melodies stand their ground and demand their due. Towner’s ruminations prioritize concision, but manage enough caprice to give each performance an adventurous vibe. This kind of balance has earned him a sizable impact in a lifetime of music-making. I hear echoes of his well-mapped lyrical maneuvers in everyone from Romero Lubambo to Bruce Cockburn. Now almost 80, the guitarist recently received a tip of hat from a younger generation of string players at Joel Harrison’s Alternative Guitar Summit, and he earned himself lots of love at his Big Ears concert in Knoxville last weekend. His two sets at the Jazz Standard tonight come at the end of a curt US run that’s prob got him all limbered up. Heard great things about last night’s shows. Head by if you think the poise of “I’ll Sing To You” or the radiance of “Pilgrim” could boost your spirits. There’s a diaphanous aura to his most fanciful pieces and rather than feeling flimsy it arrives with its heart in its hand.

Jazz Standard 

Ralph Towner ECM

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