Wolfgang Muthspiel – whom The New Yorker has called “a shining light” among today’s jazz guitarists – made his ECM leader debut in 2014 with the trio disc Driftwood, featuring him alongside two longtime colleagues, bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Brian Blade. For his follow-up – Rising Grace – the Austrian guitarist has convened a very special quintet, adding jazz luminary Brad Mehldau on piano and the outstanding young trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire to the subtly virtuosic Grenadier/Blade rhythm section.
Muthspiel moves between electric guitar and classically tinged acoustic six-string, his playing by turns grooving (“Boogaloo”) and enchanting (“Rising Grace”). The lyrical flights of Akinmusire’s trumpet and the probing improvisations of Mehldau run through Muthspiel’s rich set of compositions like golden threads, the tracks including a warm tribute to a late, great ECM artist, Kenny Wheeler (“Den Wheeler, Den Kenny”). Rising Grace also includes a deeply melodious piece that Mehldau composed especially for the album, “Wolfgang’s Waltz.”