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Wolfgang Muthspiel: Driftwood

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Since studying at Berklee College of Music and returning to his home in Austria--though not before releasing a number of American-based recordings either on his own or as a member of bands led by people like Gary Burton, Marc Johnson and Patricia Barber--guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel has largely been focusing on his career through Material Records, the label he founded at the turn of the millennium. And while he's released no shortage of fine recordings for the label--including both studio and live duo recordings with the increasingly ubiquitous drummer Brian Blade (2007's Friendly Travelers and 2008's Friendly Travelers Live), the sublime ...

INTERVIEWS

Brian Blade: Fellowship - More Than Just a Word

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In the 21st century, few drummers have managed Brian Blade's kind of crossover success. Beyond playing in saxophonist Wayne Shorter's quartet for nearly 15 years, beyond being a first-call drummer for producer/singer/songwriter Daniel Lanois--whether it's for his own projects like Black Dub or working with everyone from Bob Dylan to EmmyLou Harris--and beyond also being on-call with some of the most important names in modern music (not just jazz, but music) like Joni Mitchell, Norah Jones, John Scofield and Kenny Werner, Blade has forged a dual-career as both the co-founder of his more jazz-centric The Fellowship Band, and as an ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Brian Blade & the Fellowship Band: Landmarks

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Drummer Brian Blade is a rhythmic force of nature that moves with both fire and finesse. He's contributed to numerous recordings and performances around the globe most notably as a member of the esteemed Wayne Shorter Quartet for over 10 years. Yet at the heart of Blade's own music lies a storyteller delivering tales of poignant rural settings and down-to-earth familiarity expressed through his ongoing Fellowship Band comprised of a close-knit ensemble of friends and stellar jazz musicians. Landmarks is the group's fourth release and a return to Blue Note following its move to Verve for 2008's Season of Changes, ...

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Brian Blade & The Fellowship Band: Landmarks

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Four records in 16 years may not be prolific, but clearly Brian Blade and his longstanding Fellowship Band aren't about quantity. While a seemingly scant two years separated the drummer's leader debut (and inspiration for the group name), Fellowship (Blue Note, 1998) from its even more impressive follow-up, Perceptual (Blue Note, 2002), the group's next record, Season of Changes (Verve) came a full eight years later in 2008, and beyond a label change also reflected the trimming down of the Fellowship Band from its original septet to a sextet with the departure of pedal steel virtuoso Dave Easley.

LIVE REVIEWS

Brian Blade & Friends at Highline Ballroom

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Brian Blade & FriendsHighline BallroomNew York, New YorkJune 24, 2009Brian Blade took the Highline Ballroom stage on a humid Wednesday night to mark the release of his singer-songwriter album, Mama Rosa (Verve Music Group, 2009). There was relatively little fanfare, appropriate given Blade's humble disposition and the no-frills content of Mama Rosa and the show to come. Blade wasn't even the first musician to speak. When he and guitarist Daniel Lanois ambled up onstage, Lanois introduced Blade as the master of ceremonies, and softly said, “Brian, you've made a really good album." The first understatement ...

INTERVIEWS

Brian Blade: Songs From His Heart

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Known in the jazz world for his slick and superlative drumming skills, Brian Blade is engaged in making other musical statements these days. Statements that are outside the jazz genre, but are an essential part of this enlightened man and serious musician whose musical tastes run “between Bela Bartok and Wayne Shorter to Al Green," who, he adds, all intermingle for him.

The Shreveport, Louisiana., native has contributed his considerable talents as a drummer for projects with Joshua Redman, Kenny Garrett and Bill Frisell. He can also be heard on recordings of Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Emmy Lou ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Brian Blade: Mama Rosa

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After a lengthy gap between records with his Fellowship Band, drummer Brian Blade has stepped up the pace, following up the unmistakable sound of Season of Changes (Verve, 2008) with Mama Rosa. Blade temporarily deserts the folkloric jazz context of his longstanding group, instead delivering a singer/songwriter album that's just as compelling. Different in nature it may be, but in its own way it makes perfect sense for the introspective and deeply spiritual Blade. Blade's always had a penchant for song, even when working in longer form for Fellowship. He closed Perceptual (Blue Note, 2000) with the gentle ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Wolfgang Muthspiel / Brian Blade: Friendly Travelers Live

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This terrific two-disc package--identically sequenced in-concert CD and DVD recordings made in Austria in 2007--finds guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel and drummer Brian Blade performing half a dozen tracks from their studio album Friendly Travelers (Material Records, 2007) and another, “Shanghai," from Muthspiel's trio album with bassist Matthias Pichler and drummer Andreas Pichler Bright Side (Material Records, 2006).

Like fellow guitarist Pat Metheny--whose extreme technical virtuosity he shares, and to whose cascading lyricism he adds an enjoyable astringency--Muthspiel enjoys playing in a variety contexts, more than a few of them reliant on stacked loops and worryingly close to ambient soundscapes. ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Brian Blade & The Fellowship Band: Season Of Changes

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Brian Blade & The Fellowship Band Season Of Changes Verve Music Group 2008 It's been eight years since drummer Brian Blade released the outstanding Perceptual (Blue Note, 2000), his last release with his Fellowship band. While much has changed, from the first notes of Season Of Changes' opener, the potent, mid-tempo groover “Rubylou's Lullaby," it's also clear that what gave Fellowship its immediately recognizable sound has remained intact. Blade was an increasingly ubiquitous up-and-comer in 2000, having already clocked up significant credits in and out of the jazz sphere with artists ranging from ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Wolfgang Muthspiel-Brian Blade: Friendly Travelers

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I've been hearing guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel for over fifteen years now and have categorized him in a fusion-ish setting with a propensity to emulate the harder-edged style of John Scofield. So it came as a pleasant surprise to find that his co-venture with one of the most musical drummer/percussionists in jazz today, Brian Blade, is a most welcome event.

This duo first saw the light after being invited to perform at the 2006 Jazz Baltica Festival. Considering their diverse backgrounds, the meshing of this duo is ultimately a fine working musical environment with Blade having been the percussionist ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Wolfgang Muthspiel and Brian Blade: Friendly Travelers

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Friendly Travelers is an attractive set of guitar and drums duets by two widely-traveled (and apparently friendly) musicians. Guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel's ample use of overdubs, loops and other effects is endlessly entertaining and certainly prevents any ennui. This proliferation of guitar voices nevertheless also prevents the listener from focusing carefully on Muthspiel's musical personality. Though capable of classical precision ("Gnadenwald," “Andrej Rublijow"), his soloing on the more explicitly rock-derived numbers is appealingly rough around the edges and expressive.For his part, Brian Blade's drumming is much less subject to overdubs and effects (if in fact there are any applied ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Wolfgang Muthspiel and Brian Blade: Friendly Travelers

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A confluence of two creative minds merges into an inspiring work on Friendly Travelers. From Austria comes guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel, who has garnered international praise in both classical and jazz music including his critically acclaimed Bright Side (2006 Material Records.) Joining him is Brian Blade, who is among jazz's top drummers: leader of Brian Blade Fellowship, member of the recent Wayne Shorter Quartet, and diverse credits with Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and many others. The two have performed together in the past but now offer something new and exciting on this duo collaboration. What appears as a ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Brian Blade Fellowship: Perceptual

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Fellowship lead instrumentalists Kurt Rosenwinkel, Jon Cowherd and Brian Blade work the modern mainstream of jazz through creative impressionism and expressive jams. Saxophonists Melvin Butler and Myron Walden work alongside bass and pedal steel guitar to produce a distinctive set of timbres. They're thrilling from start to finish; and yet, Fellowship is driven by a drummer who prefers to remain in the back seat. Twenty-nine year old Blade builds sonic landscapes based on the nightly news and all else that occupies our thoughts. It's mainstream jazz for today's society. After all, whatever is reported from the next town or the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Brian Blade Fellowship: Perceptual

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Far from your typical young jazz artist, drummer Brian Blade seems almost bent on avoiding classification. He's been found in the studio and/or on the road with such disparate employers as Joshua Redman, Bob Dylan, Seal, and Joni Mitchell. With technical prowess of obvious proportions, Blade is equally reticent about flashy drum displays, content to merely color and prod the composition at hand. All of this is as much apparent in his sideman stints as it is with his two Blue Note dates as a leader, Perceptual being the latest offering by his collective known as The Brian Blade Fellowship. ...



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