Wolfgang Muthspiel: Drumfree (2011)
It is immediately apparent from the first track, "Ibrahim," that Muthspiel has found a musical kinsman in Sherrer. Not only does each musician use the openness of the setting to expert harmonic effect, but the saxophonist's big, breathy style is the perfect foil for Muthspiel's combination of lean arpeggio chording and harp-like sweeps. Again in the angular sounding "Tribal Games," guitar and saxophone move from mutual support to improvisational challenge, but with the addition of Grenadier's bass adding even more tension-filled solos before giving way to his always able support. "Double Blues" find the trio exploring an expansive blues format, Muthspiel playing an impressive game of stylistic hide-and-seek as he probes post-bop lines before alighting on two or three bars of twangy blues licks, only to then fly off into an exploratory motif that somehow merges perfectly into the accepted blues pattern. It is a rousing etude of technical merit and emotional veracity.
Taken as a whole, Drumfree is remarkably inviting given its musical prowess. Each musician gives the tunes just enough tonal elasticity, without flying off into musical astrophysics. But, most notably, there is a thoroughly impressionistic feel to the album reminiscent of pianist Bill Evans' more intimate recordingsa touch of minor key melancholy here, a benevolent harmonic subtlety there. Wrapping these strands of aptitude and expression together, Muthspiel, Sherrer and Grenadier have released a memorable instrumental album with Drumfree.
Track Listing: Ibrahim; Tribal Games; Sunspot; Double Blues; This Over That; Ralphone; The Palace (To Wena); Looking For Elba; Raumzeit.
Personnel: Wolfgang Muthspiel: guitar; Andy Scherrer: saxophone; Larry Grenadier: bass.
Record Label: Material Records
Style: Modern Jazz