Give it up for Wolfgang Muthspiel, Music Traveler Ambassador!

Written by Music Traveler

Published 17 Nov, 2020

Music Traveler is delighted to welcome Vienna-based jazz guitarist, Wolfgang Muthspiel as an Ambassador.

Muthspiel has been called “a shining light” among jazz guitarists by the New Yorker, and one of the top ten guitarists in the world according to Musicians Magazine. His intuitive, probing style and penchant for improvisation have made him one of the most influential jazz guitarists of our time. He was awarded the Hans Koller Prize for Musician of the Year and the award for European Jazz Musician of the Year in 2003.

He started his musical journey at the age of six when he began learning the violin, which he swapped out for the guitar at fifteen. He studied classical and jazz guitar at the Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Graz, winning national classical music competitions, as well as an international guitar competition in Mettman, Germany. In 1986, his talents took him across the Atlantic, to the New England Conservatory of Music, and later to Berklee College of Music in Boston. There he met Gary Burton whose quintet he would later join.

After completing his studies, Muthspiel lived in New York between 1995 and 2002. A man of many talents, he founded electronic duo Muthspiel/Muthspiel with his older brother and trombonist/composer Christian Muthspiel and dabbled in pop during his collaboration with Rebekka Bakken. In 2000 he founded his own record label Material Records. To give something back to the kids, Muthspiel set up the Focusyear Project. Each year, he gives eight or nine young musicians the opportunity to spend a year practicing, performing and studying together. The first edition of Focusyear in 2017/18 led to the release of the album Discovery.

He has played with the likes of Dhaffer Youssef, Trilok Gurtu, Dave Liebman, Peter Erskine, Don Alias, Bob Berg, The Vienna Art Orchestra, Dieter Ilg, and been a member of numerous ensembles. He is one half of the duo Friendly Travellers which he founded alongside drummer Brian Blade, and part of the MGT or Muthspiel-Grigoryan-Twoner trio with whom he debuted the album Travel Guide at ECM Records. They followed in 2014 with the highly acclaimed album From a Dream. The same year, he released the groovy and atmospheric Driftwood with Larry Grenadier on guitar and Brian Blade on drums. In 2016 he released Rising Grace as part of a quintet with Brad Mehldau, Ambrose Akinmusire, Brian Blade and Larry Grenadier. He also writes for a number of contemporary classical ensembles, such as the Ensemble for New Music Zurich, Klangforum Wien, Austrian Ministry of Arts, Boston-based Marimolin ensemble and many more.

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