Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this music junkie as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. Compact Discs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no files.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Ralph Towner & Gary Burton - Matchbook (1975)

I wish I could remember where I got the recommendation for this CD so that I could thank them or give them proper credit because this thing is fantastic.* One of the most quiet, relaxing CDs I've come across in the past few years. The music here could almost be termed "folk-jazz-classical fusion" without being New Agey. The duo performs works that are peaceful but always hold one's interest. Towner's acoustic guitars play perfectly off Burton's vibes on these nine tracks. A line from a feature on Burton in the November 20, 1975 issue of DownBeat magazine simply describes the album as "a friendly exchange of ideas with guitarist Ralph Towner, an instrumentalist whose style bears many surprising similarities to Gary’s" and that's a great analogy - more like a conversation between the two.

Recorded in Germany on July 26 & 27, 1974, when Towner was 34 years of age and Burton was 31.

Also the first ECM CD I've ever purchased that was packaged in a bi-fold cardboard slip cover instead of a proper jewel case. This 2019 reissue is part of the ECM Touchstones releases.

  • Billboard: "a pure delight"
  • Walrus!: "This is fine modern, improvisational chamber music."
  • DownBeat (★★★★★): "coerce[s] so much rapt, meditational attention from the listener that one has no choice but to be strongly affected."
  • High Fidelity: "This is an album for making love, for making peace."
  • The Rolling Stone Jazz & Blues Album Guide (1999): ★★★★
  • The Virgin Encyclopedia of Jazz (1999): ★★★★
  • The Penguin Guide to Jazz (5th ed., 2000): ★★★

Album chart peaks:
  • US Billboard Top 200: did not chart
  • Billboard Jazz: #35
  • Record World Jazz: #34

Tracks: It's all beautiful so don't skip anything. My top picks today are Icarus, Aurora, the serene album opener Drifting Petals, along with the two covers: Some Other Time from the musical On The Town and Charles Mingus's Goodbye Pork Pie Hat. The latter of those two concludes the album and leaves you wanting more.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: None.

Previously revisited for the blog:
Gary Burton Quintet - Whiz Kids (1987)
Ralph Towner - Solo Concert (1980)

*I believe it was from some random, online list of jazz albums that also included Paul Desmond's 1962 album Desmond Blue, but I've long since forgotten which website. Of course, Desmond Blue will appear in this space at a later date.

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