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Muthspiel, Wolfgang: Rising Grace

Rising Grace is the second ECM album as a leader for Austrian jazz guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel, following his successful 2014 release Driftwood. While that album was a trio recording with bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Brian Blade, for Rising Grace he's expanded on the format, pulling in trumpet player Ambrose Akinmusire and pianist Brad Mehldau to join in on the fun. This larger group format has resulted in plenty more room for solo spots and improvisation, with Mehldau's gorgeous piano adding plenty of colors as well as majestic flights, while the sultry, smoky trumpet of Akinmusire adding depth and texture to Muthspiel's compositions. Speaking of the guitarist, his liquid, emotional acoustic guitar explorations alongside Grenadier's luxurious double bass and Mahldau's gentle ivory melodies on "Intensive Care" are just gorgeous, and the whole band fires on all cylinders together throughout the lively title track. "Triad Song" sees the leader delivering some tasty lead lines that recall vintage Pat Metheny, Wes Montgomery, or George Benson, while "Wolfgang's Waltz", a Mahldau composition, swings and grooves in fine fashion, featuring some blazing jazz & funk solos from Muthspiel, tasty piano comps, and tricky rhythms. Akinmusire bleats and squonks above some complex arrangements on the quirky "Superonny", while the tribute to the late Kenny Wheeler "Den Wheeler, Den Kenny" is the albums real emotional high mark, tender at its core with poignant but daring instrumentation, Akinmusire soaring and Muthspiel mesmerizing with gentle restraint.

In the end, Rising Grace just comes across as a lovely album, not just a jazz guitar showcase for the leader but a true ensemble collaboration that is much more than the sum of its parts. This is a band that is without a doubt a force to be reckoned with, and another winner from the ECM stable.

Track Listing
01 Rising Grace
02 Intensive Care
03 Triad Song
04 Father And Sun
05 Wolfgang's Waltz
06 Superonny
07 Boogaloo
08 Den Wheeler, Den Kenny
09 Ending Music
10 Oak

Added: October 15th 2016
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: ECM Records
Hits: 1396
Language: english

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