That´s right Nimbus; the 4th track from the 1975 Solstice album by the one and only Ralph Towner. This was the first record i bought from his huge discography around 1991/92; and it is impossible to describe the impact that is work had on me in the following years (and still has).
I think the first time that i heard him was in the Weather Report album “I Sing The Body Electric” two or three years previously (he makes a guest appearance in the second track ”The Moors” with is unique 12-string style); but really didn´t ring a bell for me at the time.
Not to long after that i saw him live in Lisbon at the Aula Magna. I was not familiar with is repertoire at all; and i only remember two of the compositions that he played that night: “Nimbus” and “Le Douzzilles“. I have never seen anybody play a guitar with such an authority and command; but also delicacy and expression at the same time.
It was a magical experience; that changed my life and not necessarily for the better because i was studying classical guitar at the time and that concert really put me in a “what can i do after that?” frame of mind.
And then one by one i started to buy all is albums: solo, collaborations; and with Oregon. And my passion for is playing and compositions began to grow, and grow and grow… Eventually i began to play his material as transcriptions of the recorded pieces began to surface on the web; and i learn a ton from this extremely difficult material.
Each piece is like a compositional microcosm: You can see that sometimes it began with a very simple idea and that the rest of material is derived form the first idea; embellished, transposed, inverted, etc. And they are beautiful; very rhythmically driven but also very melodically driven at the same time, full of colors and counterpoint, in sort; all the great qualities that good music should have.
And there is an interesting thing about Ralph: is composition are so strong that completely overshadows the fact that he as an incredible technique. He is undoubtedly for me one of the most interesting composers and performer on the Classical and 12-String guitar, with a unique sound and compositional approach.
I have never been a great admirer of the tradition associated with the classical guitar; but in the hands of Towner, the path was opened in a completely new way; and still to this day no one as even got close to his shoes; or should i say nails?