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Paolo Fresu and Ralph Towner together in a London concert.

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Saturday, 26th March 2011 – David Franchi

Paolo_Fresu_1_It was much applauded the London concert “Ralph Towner and Paolo Fresu” at the Southbank Centre, the last 10th March. In the London concert they played a repertoire from their acclaimed album “Chiaroscuro” (2009), together with jazz classic and some Towner compositions. Their outstanding improvisation abilities, merged with an impressively musical talent and with the subtle style of the performance has created a memorable concert. The sound reminds a New Age approach overcoming the usual jazz music. The combination of trumpet and flugelhorn and acoustic guitars is a definitely but refined atypical beat. They have a wholly characteristic sound, especially in the tones extremely personal and unique.

During the London concert, Ralph Towner explained ‘Punta Giara’ was the first piece he ever played with Paolo Fresu, when they participated to a festival in Sardinia fifteen years ago. Towner is now resident in Italy and it was simple to get together again with Fresu, but they did it just in 2009, thirteen years later, recording the album ‘Chiaroscuro’ for the ECM.

This was their first UK tour together. Ralph Towner and Paolo Fresu are two masters of music.

Multi- instrumentalist Ralph Towner is an iconic musician. Born in Chehalis, Washington (USA), the 1st of March 1940, he is well-known for the renowned group Oregon which has been in existence for 40 years. He has made notable recordings of jazz, classical music, folk music, and world music.

Born into a musical family, his mother a piano teacher and his father a trumpet player, Towner learned the piano improvisation at the age of three. He started trumpet lessons at the age of five. He first played jazz in New York City in the late 1960s as a pianist and was strongly influenced by Bill Evans. He joined Consort of Paul Winter the world music pioneer in the late 1960s and in the same period, already at the University, he began improvising on guitars.

Towner left the Consort in 1970 to form the group Oregon. In the 1970s they released numerous highly influential records mixing folk music, Indian classical forms, and avant-garde jazz-influenced free improvisation.


Paolo Fresu and Ralph Towner together in a London concert.

At the same time, Towner has began a longstanding collaboration with the label ECM. He worked with Jack DeJohnette, Keith Jarrett, Jan Garbarek, Kenny Wheeler, Weather Reports, and Egberto Gismonti and played as a duet with Gary Burton, John Abercrombie and Gary Peacock.

Paolo Fresu, born in Berchidda, Sardinia, the 10th February 1961, is an Italian leading trumpet/flugelhorn player, receiving numerous prestigious awards. Apart from his own outstanding groups, he has played with an eclectic cast of famous musicians including Dave Holland, John Zorn, Jim Hall, Uri Caine and many more, whilst Carla Bley wrote an album specifically to showcase his sound, The Lost Chords Find Paolo Fresu.



Paolo Fresu and Ralph Towner together in a London concert.

After the London concert we met Paolo Fresu for an interview.

“A duet with Ralph Towner, guitar and trumpet, something special, not really jazz…”

“Well it’s a project undoubtedly very special and brave. It is born in a studio. Ralph Towner asked to me to share this project, so we went to a recording studio. With him, we met 15 years before, as he reminded during the today London concert, in Sardinia in a shared project, but we had no further meeting. So we recorded this album for the prestigious ECM that has had a good success. The idea to make concerts is born at that time. It is three years we are touring everywhere in Europe and in the US. It’s a really brave project, doubtless. It is very unusual, indeed, to use trumpet and acoustic guitars. Results have been heard tonight here at the Purcell Room.”

“A beautiful concert, the audience appreciated it. The music is something different. It is not your usual jazz, reminds more the New Age music style.”

“Well I don’t know what it reminds. To be honest I really have an extremely vast musical horizon. I have very quote ‘classical’ unquote projects, and I have completely different projects very much mélangé, as French people will say, with world music, with other kinds of music. This present project is for sure one in between them and it is an indefinable one, because we have jazz but not only: we have world music, we have contemporary music, we have a bit of everything. It worth to say that ECM released my album ‘Mistico Mediterraneo’ (ed. Mystic Mediterranean), which involve a Corsican choir and a bandoneon and that is even more advanced of the one we played tonight. ‘Mistico Mediterraneo’ is a really indefinable music. Instead, here tonight with Rowland is still in a jazz range, let’s say so, we have the improvisation, though it is not the traditional one, and we used traditional jazz history materials. Tonight we played three jazz standard ‘Blue in Green’, ‘Beautiful love’ and ‘I fall in love too easily’. Therefore, there is a link with jazz history. Speaking generally, the new project I made with ECM, the one with the Corsican choir, for instance it is a completely different music area. I have to say, I like to hone from a musical world to another one, sometimes maybe catching off guard for the audience…”

“So there is already an album. Will this project go on for a long time?”

“Well, the album was released two years ago. Today it was the next to last concert of our English tour started the 3rd of March; so today in London it was our eighth concert. We played everywhere in the UK. Tomorrow we will play in Manchester. Then we have a week off. We will go on tour ending in the middle of April, playing in Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Turkey and other countries. There are other forthcoming tours. Therefore, we can say it is a project that exists and it is not unlikely that we will record again a new album, having seen the success of the last one.”


Published for: www.italoeuropeo.co.uk

Direct Link: http://www.italoeuropeo.com/entertaiment/music/paolo-fresu-and-ralph-towner-together-in-a-london-concert./


Written by davidfranchi

March 28, 2011 at 6:33 pm

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