371

Dhafer Youssef / Wolfgang Muthspiel: Glow

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
Although it's a dual-leader album, in which oud player Dhafer Youssef's performance is at least as important as that of guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel, one of Glow's chief causes for celebration is Muthspiel's on-form presence. After releasing the shimmeringly beautiful Bright Side (Material Records, 2006)—a little-known masterpiece which may yet take its place alongside such jazz guitar iconographs as Johnny Smith's Moonlight In Vermont (Roulette, 1953, reissued 2004) and Wes Montgomery's Incredible Jazz Guitar (Riverside, 1960)—Muthspiel's project with drummer Brian Blade, Friendly Travelers (Material Records, 2007), was a disappointment, interesting in conception but not entirely convincing in execution.



Glow finds Muthspiel back in immaculate form as both guitarist and producer (significantly, the Blade album was a co-production while the Youssef is solely produced by Muthspiel). The disc reunites the Tunisian oud player and Austrian guitarist after a gap of six years following Muthspiel's playing and composing collaboration on Youssef's Electric Sufi (Enja, 2001). The album, Youssef's breakthrough, was a thrilling, perfectly realized collision of traditional Maghrebi music, European jazz and a lively slab of dirty, visceral rock.



Glow inhabits similar territory, but with a broader, and perhaps deeper, emotional range. In large part this is down to Youssef's singing, which Muthspiel, as producer, has coaxed to new expressive peaks. At times Youssef's voice achieves the ecstatic intensity of the late Pakistani qawwali master Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, at others it suggests the winsome vulnerability of the late electric troubadour Jeff Buckley. He sounds by turns beatific and scary, caressing and chilling, alternating lustrous tenor passages with tortured, almost weeping, falsetto. It's an extraordinary performance.



Extraordinary, too, is the instrumental content and, again, comparisons with Electric Sufi are pertinent. The earlier album was recorded by a nine-piece, the new one by a quintet. The smaller line-up retains a trumpeter, with Tom Harrell replacing Markus Stockhausen, but makes more of the interaction between Youssef and Muthspiel. Both have an exquisite gift for melody, and an understanding of the power of silence, and both place every note with precision. It's a commonplace to say such and such a musician "makes every note count," but Muthspiel, in particular, really does.



Glow uses electronic wizardry with a lighter touch than its predecessor, though textural post-production continues to be a feature of Muthspiel's work. Alegre Correa replaces drummers Mino Cinelu and Will Calhoun, and works in intimate partnership with the young bassist Matthias Pichler (who debuted so brilliantly on Bright Side).



Some music has the ability to condense time, a smaller proportion stretches it. Glow, its every bar a micro-world of eventful creation, is amongst the latter.

Visit Wolfgang Muthspiel and Dhafer Youssef on the web.


Track Listing: Mon Parfum; Babylon; Sand Dance; Mein Versprechen; Etude; Lamento; Maya; Emmerich; Cosmology; Rhapsodie.

Personnel: Dhafer Youssef: voice, oud; Wolfgang Muthspiel: guitars, violin, programming, Fender Rhodes piano; Tom Harrell: trumpet, flugelhorn; Matthias Pichler: bass; Alegre Correa: drums, percussion; Rebekka Bakken: voice (9).

Title: Glow | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Material Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Dedication CD/LP/Track Review Dedication
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 21, 2017
Read Surface of Inscription CD/LP/Track Review Surface of Inscription
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 21, 2017
Read The Treasury Shows, Vol. 24 CD/LP/Track Review The Treasury Shows, Vol. 24
by Chris Mosey
Published: November 21, 2017
Read Aleka CD/LP/Track Review Aleka
by Ian Patterson
Published: November 21, 2017
Read Alto Gusto CD/LP/Track Review Alto Gusto
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 20, 2017
Read Flow CD/LP/Track Review Flow
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: November 20, 2017
Read "Seaside" CD/LP/Track Review Seaside
by John Eyles
Published: January 30, 2017
Read "Clockwise / The Music of Cedar Walton" CD/LP/Track Review Clockwise / The Music of Cedar Walton
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 11, 2017
Read "Unification" CD/LP/Track Review Unification
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 26, 2017
Read "Rumbler" CD/LP/Track Review Rumbler
by Paul Rauch
Published: January 2, 2017
Read "Cultural Capital" CD/LP/Track Review Cultural Capital
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 4, 2017
Read "Eka" CD/LP/Track Review Eka
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: March 21, 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!

Please support out sponsor