Wolfgang Muthspiel, Rising Grace (ECM)
The Austrian Guitarist Muthspiel is the leader, but he and his sidemen are so wrapped together in the music on Rising Grace that they might have been billed as a collective. Trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, pianist Brad Mehldau, bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Brian Blade share with Muthspiel a commitment to lyrical expression that is apparent from the title tune through ten pieces, all but one composed by Muthspiel. Toward the end of Mehldau’s “Wolfgang’s Waltz” concentrated moments of mutual invention have Muthspiel and Mehldau intertwining guitar and piano lines as Grenadier and Blade elevate the swing while coloring the background. A tribute to the late trumpeter Kenny Wheeler has equally compelling interaction. Brilliant throughout, Akinmusire makes a showpiece of “Superonny” with blues feeling, daring interval leaps, a military allusion, a whinny and a growl. Rising Grace deserves the attention it’s getting.