356

Wolfgang Muthspiel and Brian Blade: Friendly Travelers

Jeff Dayton-Johnson By

Sign in to view read count
Wolfgang Muthspiel and Brian Blade: Friendly Travelers 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 to his playing) than is Muthspiel. Indeed, Blade sounds more like he showed up to play an intimate duo date—like, say, Ed Blackwell on El Corazón (ECM, 1982) with Don Cherry, or Billy Higgins on Which Way Is East (ECM, 2004), with Charles Lloyd.

The compositions, generally atmospheric, run the gamut from truly engaging—as in the case of "Gnadenwald" and "Heavy Song," which could pass for rock 'n' roll anthems—to the merely decorative. "Youssou," dedicated to Senegalese master musician Youssou N'Dour, approximates a fusion of jazz and West African music competently but, it must be said, kind of primly. (Compare the guitar rave-up on Sean Noonan's approach to the same material on his Stories to Tell (Songlines, 2006) to see what I mean.)

Overall, Muthspiel and Blade strike a balance between an unencumbered improvisational encounter and a lushly-produced album. I wish they had leaned more toward the former and less toward the latter. When the record succeeds—and it does most of the time—it's because the playing is tasteful but not too tasteful.


Track Listing: Gnadenwald; Between The Beats; End On 4; Vallekilde; Youssou; Friendly Travellers; Balladino; Heavy Song; Andrej Rublijow; Cold Summer; The Tuning Of The Bells.

Personnel: Wolfgang Muthspiel: guitars, voice; Brian Blade: drums, guitar, voice.

Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Material Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read A Dark and Stormy Day CD/LP/Track Review A Dark and Stormy Day
by Dave Wayne
Published: March 1, 2017
Read Pocono Git-Down CD/LP/Track Review Pocono Git-Down
by Edward Blanco
Published: March 1, 2017
Read Rímur CD/LP/Track Review Rímur
by Henning Bolte
Published: March 1, 2017
Read Schönbrunn CD/LP/Track Review Schönbrunn
by Tyran Grillo
Published: March 1, 2017
Read Northern Adventures CD/LP/Track Review Northern Adventures
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 28, 2017
Read Collider CD/LP/Track Review Collider
by John Sharpe
Published: February 28, 2017
Read "Over the Rainbow" CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "New World" CD/LP/Track Review New World
by Roger Farbey
Published: March 9, 2016
Read "Contrasts" CD/LP/Track Review Contrasts
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 30, 2016
Read "Day By Day" CD/LP/Track Review Day By Day
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: January 16, 2017
Read "Like a Bird or Spirit, not a Face" CD/LP/Track Review Like a Bird or Spirit, not a Face
by John Eyles
Published: March 4, 2016
Read "Bring Their ‘A’ Game" CD/LP/Track Review Bring Their ‘A’ Game
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 17, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

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!

Buy it!