Wednesday, 15 November 2017
Azimuth with Ralph Towner - Départ (1980)
Winstone, along with John Taylor and Kenny Wheeler, had by this point recorded two wonderfully airy, hypnotic albums as Azimuth, taking as much inspiration from Reichian minimalism as from the British jazz scene of their backgrounds. For this third outing, ECM 's Manfred Eicher suggested adding a guest guitarist, and all three requested Ralph Towner, who they'd met the previous year.
Towner's chiming 12-string is therefore the first accompaniment to be introduced to album opener The Longest Day, over the top of Taylor's circular piano figures, before Winstone and Wheeler begin to take flight. He switches to classical guitar for the aforementioned Autumn, and for the first two parts of the Touching Points suite. This mid-album four-parter is particularly interesting as there's increasingly less typically Azimuth drift and more choppy free improv (especially in the third section), plus a chance to hear Taylor on Terry Riley-esque organ on the fourth section. He sticks to organ for the gorgeous title track's intro, returning to piano for Winstone's brief haiku-like lyric, before everyone soars into the stratosphere again.
Sounds & Shadows (Towner)
Somewhere Called Home (Winstone with Taylor)
Double, Double You (Wheeler)