[This review was first published in Jazz Journal in 2010.]
Wolfgang Muthspiel (elg)
Mick Goodrick (elg)
Introduction to All the Things
All the Things You Are
Darn That Dream
Stella by Starlight
New York, January 2008
Material Records MRE 029-2
This set of standards, covers and original compositions serves up the diverse range of styles, moods and experiments that you would expect from a duo that have been playing together for over 20 years. This is their first release.
The sheer unpredictability of their improvisation on the standards is uplifting. All the Things You Are is taken to a very different and deconstructed place. Just enough of the original to retain a familiar anchor while Muthspiel and Goodrick bend our preconceptions as they take the listener further and further out from the starting point. Likewise the fragmented Darn That Dream and Stella by Starlight; they break up these tunes and then play with the pieces.
On the originals, such as Zen and R.E.M., a more introspective tone is taken. Smears of reverb and harmonics and gently complex runs draw us into the private laboratory of two world-class guitarists.
Despite the hard panning of Muthspiel to the left and Goodrick to the right, even with headphones it sounds more like a single being, so tightly is their playing intertwined. As Steve Swallow’s liner notes say, “What results is music for four hands of the highest order.”