Review of My Foolish Heart by Ralph Towner, ECM, 2017
There is some music who plays well in silence. I try to explain myself better: there are some music that if listened to by moments of silence seem naturally tied to it. They are born, they dive, play, they return in silence. They are a kind of natural complement, a kind of reflection and at the same time a prolongation, an integration of silence.
Few musicians have the talent to create music that responds to this quality: Takemitsu comes to mind with his sense of Ma, Keith Jarret’s piano, Jan Garbarek’s sax, and … Ralph Towner’s guitar.
Towner’s music is magical and his guitar, sometimes it almost seems to play alone, by itself. I saw him play live almost 30 years ago with the Oregon and I still remember every single note he played on that beautiful evening. Along these years I have bought many of his records and I’ve always followed him with passion, with the quiet passion of those who know that they will never be disappointed.
So I could not miss this new record, made at the age of 77, all for classical guitar and 12-string acoustic guitar. Towner is an extraordinary multi-instrumentalist and when he sits on the piano he plays in such a way that if you close your eyes, it’s easy to imagine Bill Evans standing behind him, watching him and driving him. A quality that has also led to his guitar playing, which he always does in an excellent way and with a particular touch that makes him unique and immediately recognizable. I’ve always loved how Towner plays the 12 acoustic strings, there are not so many “champions” for this instrument and he is unique in his genre. Towner plays in a completely different way from other champions like Hedge, Basho, Kottke, Jones, Rose and Fahey himself. With Fahey he has in common this open and almost mystical sound, but his phrasing is much richer. His musical “panaorama” is wider and he certainly knows more serenity. My Foolish Heart is one of the most beautiful record of this year. Thank you again Mr. Towner.