Monthly Archives: July 2010

Ralph Towner’s CD: "Chiaroscuro"

One of my favorite musicians, Ralph Towner, has finally released, after a period of nine long years, a new collaborative effort.  Here he teams up with Paolo Fresu.

Superlatives are so overused today that they are treated as fluff words.  Yet, its hard not to want to use them to describe this work.

This CD is pretty much perfect.  It has a strange fascinating fullness to it.  The way Towner plays the guitar, not single notes or strumming, but a rich harmonic that weaves sound and silence.  Towner’s playing serves to lead and accompany the superb trumpet work of Fresu, who’s phrasing and diction of the music evokes the feel of vocalist exuding emotion using mechanics of sound not words.

Why doesn’t music like this get Grammys?

In this CD the guitar and trumpet collaboration works great.  So great one wonders why it is not used more often.   Ralph Towner plays with a rich harmonic sound, and within the “full” playing, one can hear subtle technique and brilliance.    In “Zephyr” track 7, listen to the guitar intro, for example, where within the chords one briefly hears another string vibrate or twang giving the sound an intimacy and rawness.  Yet, this effect is not repeated or thrown in your face.

My favorite is the title track Chiaroscuro.  What a hauntingly simple yet so powerful “song”.  But, they are all good.  “Sacred Place” track 3 is solo baritone guitar that showcases the Towner sound, but in track 8 “The Sacred Place” (reprise), Fresu takes it to the next level, boldly reaffirming the theme.

For a professional level review read John Kelman’s article.
Also see this review: Ralph Towner, Sense and sensitivity by Anil Prasad.

Videos of Towner playing with Oregon and others are readily found on YouTube and other places, but they don’t really capture the sound as on a good CD recording such as those found on ECM in particular.

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Search on You Tube for R. Towner/P. Fresu collaboration

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Ralph Towner’s ” Spirit Lake “. Wonderfully, someone recording Ralph playing this piece. A superb “solo symphony’, in the words of one reviewer. This solo appears on the “Solo Concert [live]” CD.

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Gary Peacock and Ralph Towner made two CDs together: “Closer View” and “Oracle.” Both phenomenal examples of bass and guitar collaboration. One work I like, “Gaya”, is not available on youtube.

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Ralph Towner 2009 part 1″catching_up”

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Links

Ralph Towner 2009 part 1″catching_up”

Here is a video of the Oregon band from 1980 featuring the late Colin Walcott:

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Arguments for the elimination of the internet?

Of course, the title of this post is ludicrous, the internet has a been a marvel and has changed the world.  Who would have thought that we would have Farmville, perverts showing their wieners on Chatroulette, terrabytes of 140 character notifications of bowel movements on SMS, people spending thousands of waking hours on virtual worlds, every flavor of pornography, advanced multiprocessor systems for perfect transmission of misinformation, and a host of low moral technological advancements.  🙂

The above is all in jest.  Of course, any new technology will have positive and negative ramifications.  Automobiles get you places but also kill people.  However, there are more indications for reasons to be more cautious in providing Internet access in places like schools, children at home, and workplaces.

Jerry Mander wrote a book on reasons for eliminating television.  This was way before the internet broke out into common use in a big way.  I wonder how those arguments would play in this new medium?

The automobile ushered a new ere in social evolution and freedom.  However, today we are reaping the results of not thinking it through:  the energy costs, health, resources, and employment costs.  I bet we spend more on total automotive upkeep (from road maintenance, energy use, automotive legislation, to health costs due to injury and environmental unintended consequences) then we do on education.

Will the Internet years from now be as much of a minus as a plus? A bigger minus; already we see rampant security and privacy incursions. Even the criteria of truth is changing, just as digital imaging allow the reconstruction of reality. Will decades later be a realization of a cyberpunk continuum, where the everyman is just an information tuple ripe for exploitation by an extremity of views but nowhere a lasting gestalt to hold it together and sustain society?

Updates

7/22/2010:  Today I had to cook supper and forgot how a certain dish was prepared.  The explanation I found in the book “How To Cook Everything” did not really explain it so I, of course, went online.  I found out how to do it on YouTube.  Yea, amazing.  There is no excuse for being ignorant in today’s world.

Links

Mander, Jerry; “Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television”,  Harper Perennial, 1978, http://www.amazon.com/Arguments-Elimination-Television-Jerry-Mander/dp/0688082742

Internet Access Linked to Lower Test Scores, Katie Ash, Digital Education, http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/DigitalEducation/2010/06/home_internet_access_linked_to.html

“Do home computers help or hinder education”, http://news.slashdot.org/story/10/07/13/0120233/Do-Home-Computers-Help-Or-Hinder-Education?from=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+Slashdot/slashdot+(Slashdot)

“The Acceleration of Addictiveness”, Paul Graham, http://www.paulgraham.com/addiction.html

“Video killed the Radio, the Internet killed Thinking”, http://blog.generationjava.com/roller/bayard/entry/video-killed-the-radio-the-internet-killed-thinking

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