All About Jazz

Home » Musicians » Ralph Towner

Ralph Towner

Musical innovation is no easy feat. It not only requires an innate talent, but also a devotion to the art that is not blinded by the commercial glare of the popular culture. Ralph Towner is such an innovator on the modern musical landscape, his ideas ever fresh, though they span a career of more than forty years.

Best known as the lead composer, guitarist, and keyboardist for the acoustic jazz ensemble “Oregon”, Towner has also had a rich and varied solo career that has seen fruitful and memorable musical collaboration with such great modern musicians as Gary Burton, John Abercrombie, Egberto Gismonti, Larry Coryell, Keith Jarrett, Jan Garbarek, and Gary Peacock.

Towner was born in Chehalis, Washington on March 1st, 1940 into a musical family, his mother a piano teacher and his father a trumpet player. Towner and his siblings were raised in a nurturing and empowering environment that encouraged free musical experimentation and expression. In 1958, Towner enrolled in the University of Oregon as an art major, later changing his major to composition. He soon thereafter met bassist Glen Moore who would become a lifelong musical partner in the band Oregon.

It was about this time that Towner discovered the early LPs of Bill Evans, whom Towner emulated and whose influence he began to incorporate into his own piano style and composition. It was not much longer until Towner also bought a classical guitar on a lark and became entranced enough with the instrument that the early 1960s saw him heading to Vienna to study classical guitar with Karl Scheit. In 1968 Towner moved to New York City and immersed himself in the New York jazz scene, eventually landing a position with the Paul Winter Consort where the friendships and musical partnering with Glen Moore, Paul McCandless, and Collin Walcott were forged, a musical chemistry which was destined to alchemize into the band Oregon. Paul Winter also bestowed Towner with his first 12-string guitar. Towner has since coaxed the 12-string into imbuing his work with such a characteristic uniqueness that most jazz fans, given the two keywords “12-string” and “jazz” would immediately blurt the name Ralph Towner.

Read more
Live Reviews
Year in Review
Interviews
Multiple Reviews
Interviews
Album Reviews
Rediscovery
Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Multiple Reviews
Read more articles

Photos (35) Slideshow

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
Mar24Sun
Ralph Towner
Martyrs'
Chicago, IL
$25
Mar26Tue
Ralph Towner
Regattabar
Cambridge, MA
$28

Discography

My Foolish Heart

My Foolish Heart

ECM Records
2017

buy
Ralph Towner Solstice: Sound and Shadows

Ralph Towner...

ECM Records
2015

buy
Five Years Later

Five Years Later

ECM Records
2014

buy
Travel Guide

Travel Guide

ECM Records
2013

buy
Chiaroscuro

Chiaroscuro

ECM Records
2010

buy
Chiaroscuro

Chiaroscuro

ECM Records
2009

buy

Videos

Similar

Pat Metheny Pat Metheny
guitar
Charlie Haden Charlie Haden
bass, acoustic
Jim Hall Jim Hall
guitar
Jan Garbarek Jan Garbarek
saxophone, tenor
Gary Burton Gary Burton
vibraphone
Egberto Gismonti Egberto Gismonti
guitar, acoustic