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Travel Guide

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Chiaroscuro introduces a new duo and a rare instrumental combination – trumpet and acoustic guitar. The repertoire: a program of old and new Ralph Towner compositions and duo improvisations, plus an old Miles Davis favorite, its presence a key to the musical priorities at work here.

The album was recorded in October 2008 in Udine, but the story of the Towner/Fresu alliance really ... Read more in Amazon's Ralph Towner Store

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Product details

  • Audio CD (23 Sep 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: ECM
  • ASIN: B00CE27F5U
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 37,117 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. The HenrysonsRalph Towner 7:04Album Only
Listen  2. Father TimeRalph Towner 4:37£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. WindsongRalph Towner 6:43£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. DuendeRalph Towner 4:29£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Amarone TrioRalph Towner 5:42£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. Travel GuideRalph Towner 6:34£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. Die blaue StundeRalph Towner 5:20£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. Nico und MithraRalph Towner 3:44£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  9. TarryRalph Towner 1:03£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen10. Museum of LightRalph Towner 5:17£0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Description

An international summit meeting, 'Travel Guide' features US guitarist Ralph Towner, Austrian guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel, and Kazakhstan-born and Australia-raised guitarist Slava Grigoryan. What all three share is a strong feeling for structure, a sense for lyrical improvisation and a feeling for space, harnessing instrumental technique to very graceful musical ends. Repertoire features five compositions by Towner and five by Muthspiel.

The three musicians first came together in 2005, initially for concerts in Australia, and have since toured widely. A 2009 recording on Muthspiel's Material Records label documented the group's early progress. Ralph Towner subsequently brought the project to ECM and the trio recorded this album in Lugano in August 2012, with Manfred Eicher as producer.

Ralph Towner has been a key ECM artist for more than 40 years, while Muthspiel and Grigoryan make label debuts here. Grigoryan is well known as the pre-eminent Australian classical guitarist of his generation, and Muthspiel has been an important figure on the transatlantic jazz scene for two decades, with his own bands and as a contributor to groups of Gary Burton, Paul Motian and many others.

Towner's ECM recordings have included solo albums, duo projects (with John Abercrombie, Gary Peacock, Gary Burton, Paolo Fresu), bands under his direction (including the much-loved Solstice with Jan Garbarek, Eberhard Weber, Jon Christensen), and the co-operative Oregon group. He has also contributed to albums by Keith Jarrett, Jan Garbarek, Kenny Wheeler and Egberto Gismonti, and guested with the group Azimuth.

Personnel: Ralph Towner (classical and 12-string guitars), Wolfgang Muthspiel (electric guitar, voice), Slava Grigoryan (classical and baritone guitars)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A.Burns on 4 Nov 2013
Format: Audio CD
One of my favourite personal discoveries this year has been the music of Ralph Towner. He's been a master of melody and atmosphere for the last 40 years, and I was happy to discover that a new album, with two other guitarists who I was unfamiliar with, was to be released in October.

What I wasn't expecting was the surprise of just how wonderfully spellbinding each track on this album would be, and that it would be catapulted straight into my top 10 ECM albums, alongside the lofty company of The Köln Concert, Bright Size Life and Towner's own Solo Concert. The three guitars here blend perfectly, and through highlighting each player at different times gives the album so much variety that, alongside all the gorgeous tunes, means that you'll want to listen to this over and over again. Hard to pick a favourite, but The Henrysons opens the album with a slowly unfolding melody that captivates you right away, and Duende was also a standout on early listens.

Unreservedly recommended! Finally, a quick word about the CD itself; I'd be interested to know if anyone else has this little oddity. Instead of the usual blue 'ECM' logo above the artists' names and album title, there's just a thin blue line which I'm used to seeing on New Series releases, underneath the New Series words - but there's no wording at all on this disc, just the blue line. Is this just an interesting misprint, or are other ECM discs starting to be released this way?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By TraneSpirit332 on 1 May 2014
Format: Audio CD
From the ultra-simple background rhythm of the first piece, once W. Muthspiels's electric guitar arrives, in come the shades of Pat Metheny at his non-virtuosic best. Actually - with the basic Towner mentality - _that_ dominates much of this recording.

The pieces alternate of Towner to Muthspiel, but as much there is a general compositional distinction between the two, the whole mood is very unified.

Towner gets the most solo space and dominates the recording, but I hear so many shades of the aforementioned P. Metheny [hear Towner's 'The Prowler' from 'Anthem' / ECM 2001 and compare it with 'Midwestern Nights Dream' from Metheny / ECM 1976] here that it must be some kind of a 'sign of the times', I think. We can't think of Towner, the leader of the project, being nearly as popular as Metheny, these days, can we? This is not to say there is an intentional imitation, just an influence of some kind. Towner still sounds like himself, its just the general feeling and Muthspiel's style.

Notable is also Muthspiel's very ECM-like _singing_ [in 'Amarone Trio'], because it brings beautiful and unique shades and balance to the whole work. The most lively piece on the record is likewise W. M.'s 'Nico und Mithra', a R. T. composition 'Travel Guide' being another of rhythmic liveliness, both in composition and performance. Otherwise the mood is rather calm yet highly expressive.

To sum: this recording consists of somewhat Metheny-sounding composition/performances from Towner & Muthspiel, with S. Grigoryan mostly comping. The whole of the music is in a personal way like a guitar trio answer to the mood of P. M.'s first solo record 'Bright Size Life'.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Ralph is a legend in his own right ,teaming up here with Muthspiel & Grigorayan for Travel Guide is a treat .
Recorded in 2012 half the tunes are Ralphs' and half Muthspiels '
This album is a joy to relax to and appreciate the subtleties of their interwoven guitar playing. Excellent
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mr Mick Gough on 4 Jan 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Three mighty fine guitarists although I bought it on the strength of having heard Ralph Towner from the 70's. This album is far more reflective than commercial as compared with earlier than Ralph - but hey - those of us lucky enough to have been around for that time will all have changed if not metamorphisised on that length of journey! I'll be playing this again from time to time - it's enjoyable if not up there with Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin who by coincidence I'm watching on a Montreux DVD from 2011 right now and reader that is music I could marry!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 13 reviews
37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
Towner at His Best, in the Company of Two Masters 15 Oct 2013
By Stephen Silberman - Published on
Format: Audio CD
"Travel Guide" is a sublime recording, one of the all-time great ECM albums, and a worthy successor to Towner's telepathic duets with John Abercrombie on "Sargasso Sea" and "Five Years Later." After numerous solo projects -- which have been exquisite but a bit austere -- it's nice to hear Towner interacting with other players again, and he's never sounded more passionate, articulate, or agile. Grigoryan and Muthspiel are each brilliant guitarists on their own (with Muthspiel adding sensitive lines on electric guitar on several tracks), and this is a three-master class on prolific musical imagination and relentless swing. The trio's first effort, "From A Dream," released four years ago, was promising, but here the group's full potential is realized, and this is a much more focused and resonant effort, full of unexpected twists and turns while sustaining a deep mood.

Every few years, Towner writes a melody that is not only luminous, but seems to define its own emotional universe, as if it was written in some kind of innovative scale. The opening track, "The Henrysons," fills that bill here. It's profoundly haunting and grows more so with each listen. No one else on Earth writes melodies like this, and yet the track also sounds completely fresh and new, even in the context of Towner's past work.

This is a less inwardly-facing album than "Sargasso Sea" -- it's more overtly warm and playful -- but that feels as right for this historical moment as the more introspective mood of "Sargasso Sea" was in the mid-1970s. These three men together are an orchestra, and listening to this album will open new places inside you, as only the best music can. A crowning achievement of a brilliant career that leaves the listener only wanting more.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Good ole' Ralph! plus a few surpises. 30 Oct 2013
By mattyoyoma - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I stumbled upon this release when I was given a live show of these three. At first listen I was a bit worried that egos would clash and it would not hold up, but I was wrong. The music is fresh. Two of these guitar players I know their material. Wolfgang Muthspiel I have a few CD's of his and they are not disappointing. Ralph Towner I have a ton of his stuff and most not all of his stuff is quite amazing from Solstice which is quite good to his duets with John Abercrombie, which are quite transcendent. Ralph knows how to play well with the talent he has. Wolfgang is also an amazing player. I only have him with the normal bass, drums and saxophone (he also plays on a Paul Motion CD that is very good called "Reincarnation of a Love Bird). Worth checking out if you want to hear him. The person who caught me by surprise is Slava Grigoryan. His baritone guitar and classical playing is quite impressive. I wish I knew more about his playing either solo or with bands because I could tell you more about what his technique, but he does make an impression. Sadly he has no compositions on here and we can only hope they do another album to hear what he has to say. This album is a great addition anyone who loves jazz guitar or ECM music.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
OK...This is Just Wonderful 28 Feb 2014
By Moerne - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I am a BIG fan of Towner all the way back to Oregon "Distant Hills" days (Ralph and I have a nice contractual agreement...he puts out recordings, I buy them) and this is, frankly, about as good a recording I have heard involving him in a decade or so; and that is saying something. The compositions are remarkable, the playing is remarkable, and recording (DUH!'s on ECM so what else would it be) is remarkable. I am fervently hoping that transcriptions become available at some point soon. A particular point to make is that Muthspiel's pieces here are a revelation. I suspect that this will be considered a "classic" guitarist session within a few short years.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
sparkling in the sunlight 18 Mar 2014
By Mikio Miyaki - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
You’ll be satisfied with Ralph Towner’s distinctive finger style approach throughout the album. Austrian Wolfgang Muthspiel and Kazakhstan-born Melbourne-raised Slava Grigoryan seem to have similar tastes and feelings with Towner. They jointly fill tones to materials alternately composed by Muthspiel and Towner. Comparing with “Friday Night in San Francisco,” which is passionate and enthusiastic, the sound here is rather calm and peaceful. The album starts with delicately lyrical “The Henrysons.” Pulse like backing in “Father Time” is quite characteristic. Wind they make is not fierce. “Windsong” catches the rustling sound of leaves. It may bring a weak whirlwind but never grow up to tornado. “Duende” has full of mystic allurements. Muthspiel’s voicing in “Amarone Trio” makes us feel a mass in the monastery of the medieval period. Towner’s title track “Travel Guide” is sparkling in the sunlight. “Die Blaue Stunde” turns the mood into melancholic. Persian sun god Mithra sings joy of tripping to the west Asia. Towner depicts their lingering mood in “Tarry.” Travel ends with noticing the “Museum of Light” in the afternoon sun and it’s creating shadow.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Travel Guide-moves in the right direction 23 Aug 2014
By Brian Whistler - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Once in a while an album comes along that as soon as you spin it up, you know is of those special recordings you will live with for the rest of your life. Towner is clearly at the top of his game here, contributing 5 new compositions that are nearly matched in their beauty by the contributions of Wolfgang Muthspiel. It's one of those rare treats to find an album where the level of composition is so consistent that it plays all the way thru keeping it's exeptional qualities from start to finish. The three guitarists (the 3rd being Slava Grigoryan who I am not familiar with,) work together so effortlessly, the music flows with grace and effortless mastery. These guys have nothing to prove- they are simply here to make beautiful music. Standouts include the opening track, The Henrysons, a classic Towner composition and his lovely Spanish tinged Duende. The title track also took my breath away with its majestic melody and lilting 9/8 feel. I also really liked the Amorone Trio by Muthspiel, which really sounds like a modern classical guitar piece. Besides delivering a tasty solo, Muthspiel also adds a nice wordless vocal to the mix on this tune.

While the mood remains consistent, the trio comes up with some surprisingly varied textures, with Muthspiel on electric, Grigoryan on nylon string and baritone guitars and Towner on nylon string. It's really nice to hear Towner move off the classical guitar to the 12 string on Muthspiel's blues inflected Die Blaue Stunde. One of the foremost innovators on the 12 string, I have missed hearing Towner perform on that instrument.

All in all, Travel Guide is a stellar outing, and gets my vote for one of the best releases of 2013-5 well earned stars.
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