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Material Records Releases “Friendly Travelers” by Wolfgang Muthspiel & Brian Blade

United States
MRE 017-2 : Friendly Travelers - Wolfgang Muthspiel Brian Blade

Release Date:

  • feb. 23, 2007: austria, germany, switzerland, eu
  • feb. 26, 2007: uk, usa, canada, japan, korea

The Meeting Of The Two Brilliant Musicians Brian Blade And Wolfgang Muthspiel Is A Special Event. Listening To The Improvised Dialogues Of The Duo Suggests An Ideal Musical Cooperation.

There is a fine group of musicians who can produce specific atmospheres in which the music can grow endlessly. One of them is the young master Brian Blade, who nourishes and develops the musical flow with constant input. The fine web of his drumming is structurally complex, nearly free of patterns and at the same time light-footed and alive.

His Austrian colleague, guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel, was voted “European Jazz musician of the year 2003” by an international jury. With each new project he enters new artistic territory. His virtuosity and musical sensibility serve the constant development of his own musical language, focusing a variety of jazz- and other musical backgrounds.

The two are an ideal constellation. With “friendly travelers” orchestrated as drums/guitar duo they have developed their own music. Using live sampling they create at times a nearly orchestral density, without loosing the quick, bouncing interaction of the intimate Duo-setup.

Photograph by Carmen Brucic

Brian Blade and Wolfgang Muthspiel have made music in various contexts together, before embarking on the current journey. They had played Trio with Marc Johnson, accompanied the American pianist Mike Holober together with John Patitucci and Tim Ries on two recordings, and played on such projects as Norwegian singer Rebekka Bakken’s first album “daily mirror”.

An invitation to participate in the Jazz Baltica Festival 2006 was the start of the Duo. Besides his main instrument, Blade also plays some guitar on “friendly travellers”. The two poles in between the music is happening are: a songlike folk-influenced world informed by artists such as Joni Mitchell, and on the other end a bouncing and playful manipulation of the beat in a swing or African context.

Photograph by Carmen Brucic

The German paper FAZ wrote about the first concert of Blade/Muthspiel: “A wonderful Duo. The American Blade, drummer of the future, interacting with the Austrian guitarist in a dance of individuality and unexpected agreement. Blade, the percussive sensualist with his typical constant mini explosions and fragmentation of swing, and Muthspiel with an infinite, occidental horizon of experience between atonality and songlike tenderness...”

1 gnadenwald, by wm

  • wm:guitars, loops, voice
  • bb: drums, voice

wm: Gnadenwald is a village in tirol, austria, close to innsbruck. I am connected to this place through a wonderful friend. on the solo section I work with two loops at the same time to spell out the harmony we improvise over.

2 between the beats, by wm and bb

  • wm:guitar
  • bb: drums

This piece developed by itself in the studio. once a rhythm feels comfortable the space between the beats starts to get wide and hugely fascinating.

3 end on 4, by wm

  • wm:guitar
  • bb:drums

wm:Of all pieces on the cd this probably most resembles what one would expect from a duet of drums and guitars. it is a big pleasure to ride on the waves of Brian’s swinging drums. this is the first piece I wrote after starting to practice my instrument again after a hiatus of several years.

bb: I have always enjoyed Wolf’s writing and improvising because from moment to moment, there is the joy and complexity of life in the harmonies passing by. Let the horses run.

4 vallekilde, by wm

  • wm:guitars
  • bb:drums

Vallekilde, a small village in denmark, is where we met. in 1998 we both taught there at the summer jazz camp together with django bates, jerry bergonzi, trilok gurtu, benny green and ben wolfe. that week was filled with music, enthusiasm and parties. it left a big mark on both of us.

5 youssou, by wm

  • wm:guitars, loops, percussion
  • bb:drums, percussion

wm: i was fortunate to work with the great Senegalese singer Youssou N’Dour in 2006. his spirit and his voice inspired this piece. if you ever go to Dakar, visit Youssou’s club and listen to his band!

6 friendly travelers, by bb

  • wm:guitar
  • bb:guitar

bb: this piece is a memory from my second home of New Orleans that has given me so much both spiritually and musically. the friendly travelers were a gospel group that played weekly at cafe brasil and kaldi’s coffeehouse during my days in college. they always inspired us and lifted our spirits. love to the crescent city.

7 balladino, by wm and bb

  • wm:guitar
  • bb: drums

This improvised ballad came as a gift.

8 heavy song, by wm

  • wm:guitars, loops
  • bb:drums

wm: I remember thinking of coltrane during the solo section,

bb: The phoenix rises from the ashes on this piece. One of the all time great guitar solos that cries out, WE ARE ALIVE.

10 andrej rubljow, by wm and bb

  • wm: guitar
  • bb: drums

This improvisation could be a soundtrack to the icons of Andrei Rubljow, a Russian monk and painter living about 1370 — 1430. I got to see his work in Tarkowsky`s film.

10 cold summer, by wm and bb

  • wm: guitar
  • bb:drums

This is another improvised piece that just arrived. during the recording of this album we were experiencing the coldest june since a hundred years.

11 the tuning of the bells, by wm and bb

  • wm:guitar,loops
  • bb: bells

wm: for this exploration in sound, brian played some indian elephant bells for a certain atmosphere . all of brian’s contributions in music are harmonically rooted and not purely rhythmical.

bb: it really is fun to welcome the unknown while improvising together. sometimes, these beautiful scenes reveal themselves to us and this piece brings our musical trip to an end. fade to black. roll credits.


  • tracks 1,3,4,5,8 published by Wolf Music, AKM-austro mechana
  • track 6 published by middle way music,BMI
  • tracks 2,7,9,10,11 published by Wolf Music/middle way music,BMI.

  • Recorded June 5-8 06 by Roland Baumann TSB, Steinakirchen am Forst, Austria.
  • Mixed September 15-17 06 by Roland Baumann, Brian Blade and Wolfgang Muthspiel at TSB
  • Mastered by Roland Baumann
  • Produced by Brian Blade and Wolfgang Muthspiel

Photograph by Helmut Lackner

Photograph by Erich Reismann
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