Ralph Towner is my hero. He’s a musical pioneer, a poetic and lyrical storyteller, always searching for something new, a giant of jazz & improvised music. I have childhood memories of listening to his records in my parents collection — His duo recording with Gary Peacock “Oracle” always comes to mind. So do his solo recordings, his work with Oregon, Weather Report, Azimuth and much more.
After many years of loving and studying his music I got to meet him for the first time in 2017 after an incredible solo gig of his in Wuppertal. The promoter managed to sneak me into the dinner and somehow I ended up sitting next to Ralph. Naturally I asked him many questions all night! An interview, only without the camera. Later on Ralph was not only kind enough to write liner notes to a trio album of mine, he also accepted to play a couple of gigs with us in 2018. A dream come true, and an unforgettable experience.
This conversation took place in late 2021, before the soundcheck for our gig at Cologne Philharmonic Hall. I’m so happy that Ralph agreed to do this with me, because I’ve been wanting to interview him properly for a long time. Ralph shows and demonstrates a lot of things on the guitar, giving us a rare insight into his process. I always dreamed to be in that seat: right next to my hero, asking him about his compositions and seeing him up close coming up with all those beautiful sounds. We also talk about Bill Evans’ influence on his music, playing with Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones, how his piano playing influenced his approach to the guitar and much more. Hope you enjoy this as much as I did.