On My Foolish Heart acoustic guitarist Ralph Towner summons a subdued sweetness | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

On My Foolish Heart acoustic guitarist Ralph Towner summons a subdued sweetness 

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click to enlarge Ralph Towner

Ralph Towner

Marc Mennigmann

In the liner notes to the new My Foolish Heart (ECM), Ralph Towner recalls how hearing pianist Bill Evans’s 1961 recording of Victor Young’s ballad launched him on a quest to achieve something similarly reverent. As a sideman with the Paul Winter Consort, a member of the jazz and world-fusion ensemble Oregon, and a recording artist for the ECM label for 45 years, Towner has found many ways to evoke dimensions of introspection, yearning, and mystery. The crystalline production and vanishing quietness of early ECM recordings might as well have been tailored especially for his lyrical melodies, gently swinging rhythms, and gnomic improvisations on piano, brass, and acoustic guitars. Towner has always made his most intimate music with 12-string and classical guitars, and that’s all he plays on My Foolish Heart—and all he’ll play tonight. The titular song is treated with a subdued sweetness that suggests he remembers impetuous love more fondly than Evans did.   v

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