Ralph Towner: I Sing The Body Acoustic

This is a live video shot at Viersen (Germany)-  28th International Jazz Fest 2009

Musicians are as follows:

Ralph Towner: guitar
Paul Mc Candless: soprano sax
Glen Moore: bass
Mark Walker: drums

I first became familiar with Ralph Towner when he appeared as a sideman with Weather Report on the “Sing The Body Electric” album, and then of course with the group Oregon. I hope you enjoy this video as much as I did.

Biography- Ralph Towner

“Born in 1940 in Chehalis, Washington, Towner has made notable recordings of jazz, third stream under strong influence of folk and world music. He began his career as a conservatory-trained classical pianist, who picked up guitar in his senior year in college, then joined world music pioneer Paul Winter’s “Consort” ensemble in the late 1960s. Along with bandmates Paul McCandless, Glen Moore, and Collin Walcott, Towner left the Winter Consort in 1970 to form the group Oregon, which over the course of the 1970s issued a number of highly influential records mixing folk music, Indian classical forms, and avant-garde jazz-influenced free improvisation. At the same time, Towner began a longstanding relationship with the influential ECM record label, which has released virtually all of his non-Oregon recordings since his 1972 debut as a leader Trios / Solos. Towner has also made numerous appearances as a sideman, perhaps most famously on jazz fusion heavyweights Weather Report’s 1972 album I Sing the Body Electric.

Unlike most jazz guitarists, Towner eschews amplification, using only 6-string nylon-string and 12-string steel-string guitars. As a result, he tends to avoid high-volume musical environments, preferring small groups of mostly acoustic instruments that emphasize dynamics and group interplay. Towner also obtains a percussive effect (e.g., “Donkey Jamboree” from Slideshow with Gary Burton) from the guitar by weaving a matchbook among the strings at the neck of the instrument. Both with Oregon and as a solo artist, Towner has made significant use of overdubbing, allowing him to play piano (or synthesizer) and guitar on the same track; his most notable use of the technique came on his 1974 album Diary, in which he plays guitar-piano duets with himself on most of the album’s 8 tracks. In the 1980s, Towner began using the Prophet V synthesizer fairly extensively, but has since deemphasized his synthesizer and piano playing in favor of guitar. Towner now lives in Rome, Italy. read more


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