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Wolfgang Muthspiel - Angular Blues falls into dreamy, trance-like fare that reflects musical acuity / glide Magazine

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Jazz guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel returns to the trio format for Angular Blues. Joining him are the long-time cohort and acclaimed drummer Brian Blade and bassist Scott Colley, a departure from Muthspiel's trio that usually includes Larry Grenadier on bass. In the nine selections, Muthspiel plays acoustic guitar on three and electric on the other half dozen. This is his fifth album for the renowned ECM label and includes originals, the relaxed "Huttengriffe" and the pensive "Camino," as well as the standards from his early ECM tenure such as "Everything I Love" and "I'll Remember April." He also offers his first-ever bebop rhythm-changes tune on record ("Ride"). There is also one guitar-only track, "Solo Kanon in 5/4," with his use of delay with his electric guitar in a tune that reveals his classical side.

About his first-time inclusion of jazz standards on one of his ECM albums, Muthspiel says: "I was inspired to record standards with this trio because everything about the way the group plays feels so free, open and far from preconceived ideas, but at the crucial moment a jazz language is spoken, what we do does justice to these tunes. I learned ‘Everything I Love,' the Cole Porter song, from an early Keith Jarrett album, and I first came to know ‘I'll Remember April' from a Frank Sinatra recording. In that latter song, I hardly play solo. It's more about the head and the vamp-like atmosphere that prevails from the start and is savored again in the end. As in many moments with this trio, it's about playing with space: leaving it, creating it, filling it."

This is a return to the trio setting – telepathic interplay as rendered on Driftwood with Grenadier and Blade. Like so many of the ECM artists, much of the beauty of Muthspiel's playing lies somewhere between lyrical and atmospheric. This one, excepting "Ride," which has its own swinging attributes, often falls into dreamy, trance-like fare that reflects musical acuity upon close listening. It's almost as if space, that he refers to above, is used so judiciously that it becomes the fourth member of the group.

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