Ralph Towner and Gary Burton – Matchbook
1975 – ECM
Vibraphone/Guitar duos are a particular favorite of mine (having put out two albums of that kind myself). The mixture of (in this case) acoustic guitar and vibraphone is a special one. With no amplification or effects, this album strips away any place for the musicians to hide. They both play beautifully throughout both sides. The tunes “Icarus” and “Aurora” are my favorite from this collaboration. In “Icarus”, the chords have an air of mystery surrounding them. They take their time to unfold and change all while drawing the listener in. I don’t know if this song would work better with a whole band. The space and malleability that is created by these two instruments adds a depth to the tune that would, in opposition to conventional thought, could be destroyed by more voices. “Aurora” starts with a super catchy A section that builds into a triumphant B. It sounds like Towner overdubbed some melody lines over his chords for the B, which sounds great. It’s not over the top or showy, it just fits the energy of the tune. (If he didn’t overdub that and did it live, I would love to see a video!) There is a second album that they did together that I may review at another point, but for now, definitely check Matchbook out.