Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

474

Wolfgang Muthspiel / Brian Blade: Friendly Travelers Live

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
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. But like the older American player, when he's on-song he's magical, and Friendly Travelers and Bright Side are amongst his best own-name albums. Add Blade—a young master who's worked with a host of jazz and rock luminaries including pianist Herbie Hancock, saxophonist Wayne Shorter and guitarist/poet Bob Dylan, and whose Fellowship Band has included guitarists Kurt Rosenwinkel and Daniel Lanois—and expectations are high.



They're met in full. Friendly Travelers Live not only captures Muthspiel and Blade in some formidable part-arranged, part-improvised musical dialogues—from the post-rock rawness of "Heavy Song" through the delicate balladry of "Shanghai," with flavors of Senegalese mbalax and baroque court music along the way—the DVD also provides an illuminating portrait of the relationship between the two men. Onstage it's the relatively deadpan and absorbed Muthspiel who leads (he wrote all the tunes), and Blade who, well, not so much follows as floats around, above and below Muthspiel's guitar lines, simultaneously in the groove and beyond it. Offstage—the DVD ends with a twenty-minute film of the duo in conversation about the music during a train journey through Austria—Blade's conceptual influence is more apparent.



Real-time guitar loops are a feature of Friendly Travelers Live, just as they are on the studio album, but watching Muthspiel in performance reveals that many of what the mind imagines to be samples are in fact live and digitally unmediated—without the evidence of the DVD it doesn't seem possible that two hands, alone and unaided, could create such a layered sound tapestry.



Blade's playing is wholly in-the-moment, but it too is extraordinarily rich and layered. Of the three or four cameras used for the simply but effectively directed DVD, one points down from directly above Blade, who becomes a one-man Busby Berkeley dance troupe, his hands moving over the tom toms and low-slung cymbals in a manner as visually poetic as it is aurally so. Another camera catches his expressions of delight as Muthspiel lobs yet another nugget in his direction.



Wonderful sounds, revealing visuals. A great package.



Visit Wolfgang Muthspiel and Brian Blade on the web.


Track Listing: Between The Beats; Youssou; Shanghai; Gnadenwald; End On 4; Vallekide; Heavy Song.

Personnel: Wolfgang Muthspiel: electric guitar; Brian Blade: drums.

Title: Friendly Travelers Live | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Material Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Bad Hombre CD/LP/Track Review Bad Hombre
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Aladdin's Dream CD/LP/Track Review Aladdin's Dream
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Glow of Benares CD/LP/Track Review Glow of Benares
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Magic Circle CD/LP/Track Review Magic Circle
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: December 12, 2017
Read A Gathering Foretold CD/LP/Track Review A Gathering Foretold
by Geannine Reid
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Swinging In The Holidays CD/LP/Track Review Swinging In The Holidays
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 11, 2017
Read "Stolen Moments" CD/LP/Track Review Stolen Moments
by Jerome Wilson
Published: September 7, 2017
Read "The Deep" CD/LP/Track Review The Deep
by Dr. Judith Schlesinger
Published: July 4, 2017
Read "Freedom is Space for the Spirit" CD/LP/Track Review Freedom is Space for the Spirit
by Budd Kopman
Published: February 2, 2017
Read "The Joy of Being" CD/LP/Track Review The Joy of Being
by John Sharpe
Published: April 12, 2017
Read "Each Edge of the Field" CD/LP/Track Review Each Edge of the Field
by John Eyles
Published: July 4, 2017
Read "Acceptance" CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!