Ralph Towner / Ральф Таунер
Despite now sitting comfortably among the world’s best jazz guitarists, the guitar wasn’t Ralph Towner’s first instrument of choice. He began on trumpet, then moved to piano, before finally arriving at the classical guitar, which he studied in Austria for two years. After cutting his teeth with the Paul Winter Consort, in 1970 Towner co-founded Oregon, an all-acoustic band that blended chamber jazz with Eastern sounds and which was a forerunner of New Age music. Though the band is still going strong today, Towner has also enjoyed a fertile solo career, and his striking guitar work – limpid and crystalline – remains a thing of beauty.