They grow up so fast. It seems like just yesterday that a wave of compelling young jazz guitarists—Liberty Ellman, Kurt Rosenwinkel, and Wolfgang Muthspiel among them – was bringing new life to the instrument. Now those players are middle-aged, with a new crop of nimble plectrists snapping at their heels. But Muthspiel’s “Angular Blues” proves that gifted improvisers can hit their stride in their autumn years. He doesn’t let his agile fingers do all the thinking for him: his lines breathe rather than pant, particularly on the first three tracks, which feature acoustic guitar. Partnered with two receptive players—the drummer Brian Blade and the bassist Scott Colley—Muthspiel demonstrates his artistic maturity, but he still finds moments to loosen the reins, as on the aptly tided “Ride.”
“Rich and pastoral interplay is created by guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel as he leads a symbiotic trio with Scott Colley on bass and deft drummer Brian Blade.”
George W. Harris (jazzweekly.com)
“What a beautiful album this is.”
Bebop spoken here
“The way this trio tosses the ball around is a joy, but this is never a Harlem Globetrotters-styled showcase. The all take turns offering perfect assists, they are a team and this is tight, invigorating modern jazz.”
Simon Sweetman (offthetracks.co.nz)
“Speaking of excitable,listen to Blade and Colley coax Muthspiel’s inner rock guitar god out of hiding on the fiery, jazz-rocking “Kanon in 6/8.”It’s a real treat, just like the whole album.”
Mike Jurkovich (All about Jazz)
Their excellent album […] a worthy addition to an ECM lineage that includes classic albums by John Abercrombie and Terje Rypdal.
“After having lived with this music for a few weeks the album stands out to me as a testament to Muthspiel’s full-blown artistry, his position among the foremost Jazz guitarists of the present-day. He has arrived, of that there is no doubt. Outstanding album this is. Do not miss it.”
Grego Applegate Edwards
“A highlight that deserves close listening”
Tyran Grillo (NYC Jazz Record)
“The coolly graceful guitarist digs back into classic jazz vibes on this spontaneous and songrooted set.”
There is so much to commend Wolfgang Muthspiel latest recording Angular Blues: the beautiful textures created by its guitar, bass and drums sonority; the outstanding quality of the musicianship on display; the interesting original compositions which bring forth reflective and introspective improvisations; the unique musical personalities of Wolfgang, bassist Scott Colley and drummer Brian Blade, all of whom are respectful of the Jazz tradition while, at the same time, bringing forth their own unique, individual voices.
It’s rare that a recording comes fully formed in terms of the excellence of its music, the musicians who perform it and the audio aura that captures it. Angular Blues is one of these singular occasions and Manfred Eicher should be rightfully pleased and proud of his production.
Steven Cerra (Jazz Profiles)
Muthspiel possesses some of the finest ears alert to a chord change imaginable and his sound manages to combine both technical skill and interpretative grace.
This trio makes powerful and moving music. Everything they do is in service to the music and takes place in close relationship with each other as players. “Scott and Brian share my love of song,” Muthspiel says, “while at the same time there is constant musical conversation about these songs.” That sums it up pretty well.
Gary Whitehouse (Green Man Review)
“Angular Blues” is a delight-filled album from the trio of Wolfgang Muthspiel (leader), Scott Colley, and the always masterly Brian Blade. The usually pristine ECM sound allows the listener to hear each musician and their glorious interactions are an integral part of what makes the recording so enjoyable. Check it out!
“This trio has the perfect combination of freedom and lyricism.
Whatever Muthspiel does next will be worth waiting for.”
Mark Sullivan (All about Jazz)
“Calling this Muthspiel’s strongest set for Manfred Eicher’s lauded label may downplay the strengths of its forerunners, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Angular Blues, both aligned with and apart from that which precedes it, is a winner through and through”.
Dan Bilawsky (All about Jazz)
“Like so many of the ECM artists, much of the beauty of Muthspiel’s playing lies somewhere between lyrical and atmospheric. This one 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.”
Jim Hynes (Glidemagazine)
“A record that’s maybe one of the most tuneful, lyrical we’ve ever heard from guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel”.
The most beautiful moments here stay with you long after the album ends, and you’ll find yourself returning to them many times, each time finding something new to explore. If you’re a fan of Muthspiel’s previous trio experiments, you’ll find plenty to feast upon and delve into on Angular Blues.
Michael Elliott (Popmatters)
With crystalline production and canny collaboration by three jazz masters, Angular Blues adds not only depth and breadth to Muthspiel’s ECM catalog, it’s weighty enough to own a chapter in the history book of jazz guitar trios.
Thom Jurek (Allmusic)
This is clearly the music that is individual, inspired, original and daring. With it these musicians enrich the library of recorded music with repertoire that is highly imaginative performed with distinctive style and ornamentation by musicians who are both inspired and inspirational. The adventurous impressionism of Mr Muthspiel, Mr Colley and Mr Blade will delight with each new listening of the music of Angular Blues
Jazz da Gama
The first third of the album features acoustic guitar as moods shift from sunny and pastoral through the sharper edges of the title track before the lovely folk ballad Hüttengriffe. The three play with a relaxed precision that comes from long hours at the bandstand together…The guitar-only Solo Kanon in 5/4, an exercise in fine-spun lyricism with echoes of Scarlatti and Bach, is a high point of a quietly impressive album. (ECM)
John Bungey (The Times)
“Whether working in the chamber jazz that’s thus far defined his ECM tenure or incorporating more bop into his blend, Muthspiel keeps to his strengths: a keen touch for melody and a simmering energy that keeps his performances compelling even at their most mellow. He expertly balances these instincts on Angular Blues, making it one of his best albums so far.”
Michael Toland (rockandrollglobe.com)