Apr 14, 2020
A lengthy conversation with Wolfgang Muthspiel has been a long overdue podcast to prepare for my listeners. The Austrian born guitarist, composer and record label owner has been among the most dynamic guitarists of recent years, and has made some shining albums for ECM.
His latest release, Angular Blues, is a return to the trio format, following two acclaimed quintet releases. Wolfgang once again has long-time collaborator Brian Blade on drums; but instead of his usual running buddy, Larry Grenadier, on bass, this time it's Scott Colley, whose unique sound helps imbue this trio with its own dynamic.
Muthspiel recorded Angular Blues on both electric and nylon-string acoustic guitar, bringing a different sonic quality to the various tracks. There is a tremendous sense of conversation among these three stellar musicians, as Blade and Colley bring much more than rhythmic and harmonic support to the guitar. Most of the tunes are originals, but for the first time on an ECM release, Wolfgang brings his version of two standards, "Everything I Love" and "I'll Remember April." He mostly eschews guitar effects here, with the notable exception of his “Kanon” recordings, where his delay allows him to converse with himself.
Muthspiel has released almost an album a year since 2007, including trio settings with Slava Grigoryan and Ralph Towner, Blade and Grenadier, and Andi Scherer and Grenadier. His most recent ECM releases were star-studded quintet albums featuring Ambrose Akinmusire, Brad Mehldau, Grenadier and Eric Harland.
Muthspiel is a graduate of “Gary Burton University,” having held the guitar spot occupied by legends from Larry Coryell to Pat Metheny. John Scofield to Julian Lage. His most recent performances have been larger scale pieces, working with orchestras in Europe.
Podcast 740 is an hour-long presentation, as Wolfgang talks about the making of Angular Blues, what he looks for in his sidemen, and his past recordings with his brother Christian, Gary Burton and others. Musical selections include the title track from Angular Blues, “Everything I Love” and “Kanon in 5/4;” “Nowhere” from his collaboration with singer Rebekka Bakken, Daily Mirror, on his Material Records label; “Tiznit” from his collaboration with his brother called Muthspiel & Muthspiel; and “Take Another Look” with the Gary Burton Quintet from Cool Nights.