The guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel (*1965) lives in Vienna and is considered one of the most influential guitarists of his generation. After being classically trained on the violin, he discovered his love for guitar at the age of 15. An interest in both his own and improvised music eventually led him to focus on jazz. After studying with Mick Goodrick at the New England Conservatory and then later at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, he toured with the Gary Burton Quintet for two years, establishing an excellent reputation in the jazz scene. Starting in the mid-1990s, he lived and worked in the jazz capital of New York. He ventured into the world of pop music with the singer Rebekka Bakken, while also pursuing the electronic project Muthspiel/Muthspiel with his brother. He has also been a regularly sought-after sideman for artists such as Trilok Gurtu, Dhafer Youssef, Youssou N’Dour, Maria Joao, Dave Liebman, Peter Erskine, Paul Motian, Bob Berg, Gary Peacock, Don Alias, Larry Grenadier, John Patitucci, Dieter Ilg, the Vienna Art Orchestra, and many more.
In 2000, he founded the Material Records label, which has released numerous recordings of artists in an international format. After a European tour with his new quartet (2008) and the duo project Friendly Travelers, in collaboration with the drummer Brian Blade (2008), Muthspiel devoted himself more and more to the trio MGT (Muthspiel – Grigoryan – Towner), which, after several concert tours, released the highly acclaimed debut album From a Dream. In addition, he has composed pieces for various ensembles, such as the Klangforum Wien and, on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of Joseph Haydn’s death in 2009, a commissioned work for the Esterhazy Foundation. He has produced recordings of young musicians, and since 2004, he has led the guitar programme of the Basel University of Music FHNW.
In 2017, Muthspiel founded the Focus Year program at the Jazzcampus Basel and has since been artistic director of this globally unique year-long programme of intensive musical exploration.
In June 2012, the recording of the project Vienna Naked, a song programme composed by Muthspiel for guitar and voice, was released.
Muthspiel made his debut with MGT in 2013 with the album Travel Guide on the renowned Munich label ECM. In 2014, he made his debut as a band leader at ECM. The trio recording Driftwood with Brian Blade and Larry Grenadier garnered huge critical praise and in 2014, Muthspiel was given a contract for his own concert series at the Konzerthaus Wien. The Vienna World project was followed by another vocal recording in 2015, for which he performed and recorded with eighteen musicians in Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, New York, Sweden and Vienna.
Rising Grace was released on ECM Records in autumn 2016. This quintet recording with Brad Mehldau, Ambrose Akinmusire, Brian Blade and Larry Grenadier adorned many of the bestof lists of 2016, was given five out of five stars by DownBeat magazine, and led to the Wolfgang Muthspiel Quintet playing numerous sold-out concerts worldwide. In 2018, the quintet performed and recorded Where The River Goes, with Eric Harland on drums, which led to many more performances and concerts.
The Wolfgang Muthspiel Large Ensemble was launched in 2019, which led to a programme consisting of pieces by Muthspiel in new arrangements by Guillermo Klein the following year. The 19-member ensemble combined European jazz legends with virtuoso representatives of chamber music, and toured and performed in the autumn of the same year in the Hamburg Elbphilharmonie and the Wiener Konzerthaus, among others.
Recorded during a joint tour of Japan in 2018 with Scott Colley and Brian Blade, the trio album Angular Blues was released in the spring of 2020. Planned US and EU concerts have been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Muthspiel’s numerous awards include the Hans Koller Prize for Musician of the Year and the award for European Jazz Musician of the Year 2003. In addition, Musicians magazine has selected him as one of the “top 10 jazz guitarists of the world”. December 2020