Cover Where The River Goes

Album info



Label: ECM Records

Genre: Jazz

Subgenre: Contemporary Jazz

Album including Album cover Booklet (PDF)

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  • 1Where The River Goes07:42
  • 2For Django07:15
  • 3Descendants05:32
  • 4Clearing07:26
  • 5Buenos Aires03:37
  • 6One Day My Prince Was Gone05:31
  • 7Blueshead07:41
  • 8Panorama03:27
  • Total Runtime48:11

Info for Where The River Goes

Where The River Goes carries the story forward from Wolfgang Muthspiel’s highly-acclaimed Rising Grace recording of 2016, reuniting the Austrian guitarist with Brad Mehldau, Ambrose Akinmusire and Larry Grenadier, heavy talents all, and bringing in the great Eric Harland on drums. Much more than an “all-star” gathering, the group plays as an ensemble with its own distinct identity, evident both in the interpretation of Muthspiel’s pieces and in the collective playing. The album, recorded at Studios La Buissonne in February 2018, and produced by Manfred Eicher, features six compositions by Wolfgang Muthspiel and one by Brad Mehldau, plus group improvisation. It is issued in both CD and vinyl formats. Wolfgang Muthspiel plays music from Where The River Goes on tour this autumn with concerts at major venues in Germany, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland and Estonia.

Where The River Goes carries the story forward from Rising Grace, Austrian guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel’s widely acclaimed 2016 recording, returning his cast of musicians to the same studio in southern France, for more of the intuitive magic and deep listening that characterised the earlier album. “The disc’s ambience,” said Downbeat of Rising Grace, “is meditative yet optimistic and joyful. Percolating grooves propel the flow; elemental melodies and classical harmonies provide signposts.”

On Where The River Goes, Wolfgang Muthspiel, Brad Mehldau, Ambrose Akinmusire and Larry Grenadier, now joined by drummer Eric Harland, again take a creative approach to the bandleader’s compositions, constantly stretching the forms, reharmonizing melodies, embellishing heads, delving into the texture of the pieces. And, though the quintet has, inevitably, been praised as an ‘all-star ensemble’, its energies are very democratically pooled. Solos in the conventional sense are rationed here – although the outgoing “Blueshead”, a Mehldau composition, has energetic features for all five members of the band – but there is a great deal of inspired conversation among the participants, and a shared sense of freedom.

One early instance is the dialogue subtly developed by Muthspiel and Mehldau in the middle of “For Django”, circling each other as they make new music. The opening minutes of “One Day My Prince Was Gone” are similarly intriguing, with multiple lines interweaving in extended free counterpoint before coalescing in Muthspiel’s theme. On “Panorama”, Muthspiel’s arpeggios are beautifully embroidered by Harland’s purring snare drum. Throughout the album Ambrose Akinmusire, juxtaposing pure clear trumpet tone with his vocabulary of painterly smears of sound, continually finds new angles to the material. Muthspiel praises the trumpeter’s fearlessness and has hailed him as “a great new force in the music.”

The titular river of the album flows towards and away from the spontaneously created piece “Clearing”, situated at the centre of the programme and credited to all five players. For Muthspiel and cohorts playing “free” means finding and capturing form in the moment.

On “Buenos Aires”, Muthspiel is heard alone, playing with an elegance that underlines the The New Yorker’s description of him as “a shining light” among contemporary jazz guitarists.

Wolfgang Muthspiel, guitar
Ambrose Akinmusire, trumpet
Brad Mehldau, piano
Larry Grenadier, double bass
Eric Harland, drums

Wolfgang Muthspiel
was born in 1965 in Judenburg, Austria. He played violin from age 6 and took up guitar at 15. At the Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Graz, he studied both classical and jazz guitar, subsequently winning national competitions for classical music as well as the International Guitar Competition in Mettmann, Germany. Interested in improvisation from an early age, he emigrated to the U.S. in 1986 to study at the New England Conservatory. At the Berklee School of Music in Boston, he met Gary Burton, who invited him to join his quintet. While based in New York from 1995 to 2002, he performed with a diverse array of artists: Trilok Gurtu, Youssou N’Dour, Gary Peacock, Dave Liebman, Peter Erskine and Rebekka Bakken, among others. Current projects include his duo with Brian Blade, a quartet featuring pianist Jean-Paul Brodbeck, and a trio with Larry Grenadier and saxophonist Chris Cheek. In addition to his jazz projects, Muthspiel writes for contemporary classical ensembles and has received commissions from the Ensemble for New Music Zurich, Klangforum Wien, the Austrian Ministry of Arts, the Boston-based Marimolin ensemble and more.

Booklet for Where The River Goes

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