Advertisement
Advertisement

Wolfgang Muthspiel: Angular Blues

In brief:
"His compositions always have a ring of familiarity about them, but unplaceable, as if he were playing a known tune in an unusual way. It’s not a bad gift for a jazz player, which is what he unmistakably is"

Muthspiel was indifferently served by major labels over the years and for a time the guitarist was putting out records on his own Material label. Recognition by ECM was overdue and this delicately beautiful set takes Muthspiel right back to the wonderful trio work he was doing with Marc Johnson and Bobby Battle on Real Book Stories around the millennium.

Colley and Blade are similar musicians, who complement the guitarist but have significant statements of their own to make and the drummer is among the most interesting around at the moment. His qualities of thoughtfulness and an almost spiritual intensity are in evidence throughout the disc.

Advertisement

There’s only one standard this time, a rather tacked-on I’ll Remember April that could easily have been dispensed with, for the writing and playing on the rest of the album is of the highest order. The title tune delivers pretty much what it says, except that it isn’t quite a blues at all, but something that Muthspiel has specialised in down the years, the slightly displaced melody. His compositions always have a ring of familiarity about them, but unplaceable, as if he were playing a known tune in an unusual way. It’s not a bad gift for a jazz player, which is what he unmistakably is.

Electric guitarists find it hard to keep strains of rock out of their work, even if they dial everything down. But Muthspiel has always managed it. His ability to play in awkward time signatures is sometimes counterproductive, but he manages here on Kanon In 6/8 and the following Solo In 5/4 to make them seem as natural and swinging as a basic four.

In some ways, it’s Colley and Blade who make the disc so successful. The bassist’s big singing tone is always lovely and Blade’s quiet accuracy should be studied by all young drummers. As a trio, they’re hard to beat.

Discography
Wondering; Angular Blues; Hüttengriffe; Camino; Ride; Everything I Love; Kanon In 6/8; Solo Kanon In 5/4; I’ll Remember April (62.30)
Muthspiel (elg); Scott Colley (b); Brian Blade (d).
ECM 081 4506

Latest audio reviews

Advertisement

More from this author

Advertisement

Jazz Journal articles by month

Advertisement

John Daversa Quintet: Cuarantena: With Family At Home

Trumpeter and composer John Daversa is Chair of Studio Music and Jazz at the Frost School of Music, University of Miami. For a number...
Advertisement

Obituary: Junior Mance

Pianist, composer and educator Junior Mance died in his New York City home on 18 January. He was 92, and had been in failing...
Advertisement

Paul Ryan: Renaissance Man

I first saw Paul Ryan live on stage in the last decade of the 20th century. If not quite the quarter of a century...
Advertisement

Jazz Italiano: A History Of Italian Syncopated Music, 1904-1946

There was a question on one of the brainier TV quiz shows recently – QI or some such – that posed a kind of...
Advertisement

Otto Preminger’s Anatomy Of A Murder

This 1959 movie by director Otto Preminger offered two innovations. It was the first time a jazz score had been used exclusively throughout a...
Advertisement

JJ 12/79: Spontaneous Music Ensemble – Live

The detail that the S.M.E. Big Band bring to the simple march tune, Lets Sing For Him is remarkable. The voices and horns ebb...