Travel Guide

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Towner; Muthspiel; Grigoryan
LABELS: ECM
ALBUM TITLE: Travel Guide
WORKS: Travel Guide
PERFORMER: Ralph Towner, Wolfgang Muthspiel, Slava Grigoryan
CATALOGUE NO: 372 9508

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Guitar ensembles usually have at least a whiff of Roland Barthes’s ‘musica practica’ about them in that while their music exists to be listened to, it tends to be by other guitarists. This trio is a more interesting beast and its presentation on the ECM roster (Ralph Towner is a veteran, Wolfgang Muthspiel a newcomer but widely recorded elsewhere, Slava Grigoryan likewise and slightly less so) bodes
well for the project.

What the three guitarists have in common is a grounding in multiple aspects of this mercurial instrument, producing a music that happily stirs jazz, Baroque, Latin, folk and contemporary influences into a likeable mix that manages to be entirely unselfconscious simply because the guitar inhabits all these traditions anyway. The compositions are nuanced and detailed and reward repeated listening, but the recording quality loses a couple of stars due to what sounds like an odd rounding-off of the upper frequencies in places.

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Roger Thomas