Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » Wolfgang Muthspiel: Where The River Goes

8

Wolfgang Muthspiel: Where The River Goes

By

Sign in to view read count
Wolfgang Muthspiel: Where The River Goes
Austrian guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel returns with the same lyrical magic that characterized his previous quintet recording Rising Grace (ECM, 2016). That quintet—with trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, pianist Brad Mehldau and bassist Larry Grenadier—is altered only by the substitution of drummer Eric Harland for Brian Blade.

Muthspiel begins the title tune unaccompanied on electric guitar, with Mehldau joining in on piano for a brief duet. Akinmusire's playing of the theme cues the rest of the band to join in. As on the previous album, it is immediately clear that the music will be far more conversational than the conventional jazz approach of head plus solos. But there is space for fine guitar and piano solos.

"For Django" is a dedication to the British composer/pianist (and tenor horn player) Django Bates, whose compositions have had a big impact on Muthspiel. So it seems appropriate that this gentle evocation is not a guitar feature, opening with piano and giving a trumpet solo the main spotlight. "Descendants" continues the chamber jazz approach by beginning with electric guitar and trumpet. The dramatic rhythmic bridge is driven along by Harlan's propulsive drumming, the closest thing to a drum solo in the set (along with a similar coda on "Blueshead").

"Clearing" is the first collective composition from this band on record. It has a remarkable rhythmic opening section—not typical of ECM improvisations—which then dissolves into an atmospheric rubato. The lyrical final section introduces Muthspiel's classical guitar, which leads into the solo piece "Buenos Aires." It is a beautiful tone poem, again standing out by lacking the expected tango references. Muthspiel completes the main classical guitar-oriented part of the program on "One Day My Prince Was Gone" (which also gives bassist Grenadier a chance to shine).

As on the previous album, Mehldau contributes one tune, the bebop-oriented "Blueshead." This is by far the most straight-ahead jazz in the program, and it is enjoyable to hear the band execute the twisting head, as well as a round of energetic, unrestrained solos. Classical guitar comes back for the closer, "Panorama." It should be said that this combination of electric guitar and classical guitar is unusual: usually electric guitarists double on steel-string acoustic guitars. The fact that Muthspiel has played the instrument in the MGT trio with Ralph Towner (the leading improvising classical guitarist in jazz) should be all that needs to be said about his classical guitar chops.

Another beautiful album from this quintet, and one which rewards close listening. Hopefully they will continue to reconvene periodically as their busy individual schedules allow.

Track Listing

Where The River Goes; For Django; Descendants; Clearing; Buenos Aires; One Day My Prince Was Gone; Blueshead; Panorama.

Personnel

Wolfgang Muthspiel: guitar; Ambrose Akinmusire: trumpet; Brad Mehldau: piano; Larry Grenadier: double bass; Eric Harland: drums.

Album information

Title: Where The River Goes | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: ECM Records


< Previous
Dreamstruck

Comments

Tags


For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

More

Heaven On My Mind
Yuri Honing Acoustic Quartet
Beatin' the Odds
Leigh Pilzer
Nimble Digits
Geoff Stradling

Popular

The Seagull's Serenade
Dominik Schürmann
Heartland Radio
Remy Le Boeuf’s Assembly of Shadows
Slow Water
Stephan Crump

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.