243

Wolfgang Muthspiel: Drumfree

Raul d'Gama Rose By

Sign in to view read count
Drumfree contains some of the most stimulating three-way counterpoint written and played in a long time. All of the compositional credit goes to Wolfgang Muthspiel, the composer; but making it all come alive is Muthspiel, the guitarist, and his chosen partners for this date: saxophonist Andy Scherrer and bassist Larry Grenadier. Muthspiel leads from the front with the warmth and splendor of his authoritative voice. The guitarist is deeply rooted in the harmonic ideas of European music, with phrases fully formed and informed by the contrapuntal ideas that spring from the tradition of Bach.

Muthspiel is also a sublime melodist, taking leave from Mozart as much as he does some of his contemporaries spread across the landscape of modern music. He has certainly heard the ancestors of his chosen instrument, from Charlie Christian and Freddie Green to Wes Montgomery. But he has also listened carefully to pianists Bill Evans and the magical Abdullah Ibrahim.

Muthspiel's is a unique voice. Bright and singing, it sets the music aglow with bubbling melody and sophisticated harmony ensconced in an enormous palette of colors, which the guitarist applies with deft touch and exacting technique. He plays single notes with joyful clarity, triads and chords with a sense of purpose to bring about a sunburst of colors. His ability to make outstanding timbral pronouncements puts him in a league presided over by the sublime mastery of Ralph Towner. Here, too, Muthspiel holds his own, delivering on the promise held out for his ingenuity as well. His dialogs with that other master on this date, Grenadier, are a joy to hear, whether they are navigating a complex musical portrait in "Ibrahim," or swinging in and out of a minor blues, "Double Blues," where Muthspiel trades thirds with Grenadier, then dropping back to comp in the shadow of the bassist's deep grumbling solo. Then Muthspiel dives behind Scherrer's lush soloing, before playing a maddeningly brilliant harmonic figure to lead the trio into Grenadier's solo.

In between it all there is music that reveals Muthspiel's mastery of various modes. This is a result of making music in Europe, where the musician is surrounded by craftsmanship and history that impels the artist into the Greco-Roman world of exactitude, as well as into the beautiful florid world of the baroque era, when Johann Sebastian Bach and Antonio Vivaldi held sway.

Being surrounded by all things melodic and Mozart also must have counted for something. Muthspiel has absorbed all this as well as enough of the tradition of the blues to make music that is not only worldly in vision, but also contemporary in relevance. He demonstrates an unaffected style, letting it all emerge with just the right amount of intellect and emotion on "Ralphone," and the crowning moments of "Raumzeit," where Grenadier's arco playing is sublime.

Despite Muthspiel's travels through time this remains a truly modern guitar album.

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.

Title: Drumfree | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Material Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Another North CD/LP/Track Review Another North
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Gledalec CD/LP/Track Review Gledalec
by John Sharpe
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Flux Reflux CD/LP/Track Review Flux Reflux
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Christmas With Champian CD/LP/Track Review Christmas With Champian
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Harmony of Difference CD/LP/Track Review Harmony of Difference
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 18, 2017
Read No Answer CD/LP/Track Review No Answer
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 18, 2017
Read "The Roc" CD/LP/Track Review The Roc
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 6, 2017
Read "Loving You: Celebrating Shirley Horn" CD/LP/Track Review Loving You: Celebrating Shirley Horn
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 15, 2017
Read "Inside The Moment" CD/LP/Track Review Inside The Moment
by James Nadal
Published: June 21, 2017
Read "Ephimeral" CD/LP/Track Review Ephimeral
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 28, 2017
Read "Tales From A Forbidden Land" CD/LP/Track Review Tales From A Forbidden Land
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 1, 2017
Read "Meditations on Freedom" CD/LP/Track Review Meditations on Freedom
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: January 16, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.