Primary Instrument: Guitar
Using his keen talent for musical invention, Wolfgang Schalk has garnered international acclaim as a gifted guitarist and composer.
Wolfgang Schalk's new release Word of Ear further showcases his talent as a consummate guitarist, playing with deep soulfulness and feeling. A guitarist with impeccable chops, Schalk delivers hard swinging and emotive compositions in the vein of the patriarchal jazz guitarist lineage while highlighting his membership in the elite club of todays creative voices.
With the follow up to his critically acclaimed release Wanted (Frame Up Music 2008) the bi-coastal (NY/LA) jazz guitarist presents new music with an exciting band. Yet, in contrast to the familiar term word of mouth, it is the music that speaks with its unique yet familiar language. This embodies the essence of Word of Ear as Schalk reaffirms that jazz is one of the deepest art-forms”. These concepts are fully realized within the recording's nine tracks.
Schalk's musicianship is illuminated on both electric and nylon-string guitar. His distinct tone conveys tender warmth whether in high speeds in bebop, funky pieces, or ballads. Recalling the sounds of esteemed fret-board masters Wes Montgomery, George Benson, Pat Martino and Pat Metheny, Schalk expands on the tradition by playing dynamic music expressing thoughtfulness and original artistic abilities as one of today's authentic jazz guitarists.
AllAboutJazz writes: “Schalk creates impressive structures for improvisation, and he fits each and every structure with a hip, catchy melody. If other musicians pick up on these tunes, every single one of them has the potential to become a jazz standard.
The main characteristics of Wolfgang Schalk's music is his drive to formal control on one hand and his melodic talent and skills as a composer on the other. His compositions are pleasantly complex, rich in contrasts, nevertheless resolutely intended in a narrative cantability that creates fertile room for expression with his musicians.
Leading his own bands, Schalk has recorded six albums as a leader with all original music. His previous recordings: Space Messengers (2005 Universal / Emarcy) and Rainbows in the Night (2002, West & East) received enthusiastic praise from journalists, musical peers and fans alike. In 2005 Wolfgang Schalk signed a recording deal with Universal Music and in 2008 Schalk founded his own record label Frame Up Music which was primarily launched as an outlet for producing music on his own terms.
Wolfgang Schalk has worked with an impressive lineup of notable musicians, including 11-time Grammy award-winning Michael Brecker, Dave Kikoski, Andy McKee, Ian Froman, Rick Margitza, Dave Carpenter, Gene Jackson, Marvin “Smitty” Smith, Geoffrey Keezer and John Beasley to name a few. Michael Brecker delivered some of his finest blowing on Wolfgang’s NY debut “The Second Third Man“, cutting loose on tracks like the album's title cut. Jazz.com writes: The Second Third Man is indicative of the whole album. It is improvised music of originality and high performance. Schalk and Brecker are perfect foils as they tackle a complicated and relentless head arrangement...This is a high-caliber chops fest in the best tradition of the jazz-rock idiom.
Wolfgang Schalk traveled a typically uncompromising path from the cities of Graz and Vienna Austria to New York. Schalk further developed his style audibly in the cosmopolitan urban pulse of New York City and succeeded in establishing himself in its stimulating yet hard-to-survive environment. Schalk most recently lives in Los Angeles and swings between the coasts.
From an artistic family, Schalk started straddling visual art and music early in his childhood. When he was six years old, he built a drum set out of stuff he found around his home and jammed with his brother in his parent's stable. At the age of 15, Schalk switched from playing the accordion to classical guitar. He got into jazz in art school. Schalk's story is not the typical “I started listening to my parents' jazz records” tale. “I brought jazz into our house,” he remembers. “I grew up in a village where people did not get jazz at the time.”
After a year of art school in Graz, Schalk realized he wanted to make music more than his desire to create visual art, so he dropped out of school to pursue a career in music. He studied jazz guitar with Franz Posch in Graz, who turned him on to guitarist Harry Pepl. Schalk says, “A lot of what I listened to at that time was the modern stuff. Wes Montgomery is still my hero. I see him as the father of contemporary jazz guitar.”
Schalk moved to Vienna from Graz in 1987, where he pursued studio work to perform with a wide variety of bands. Not content to play other people's music, Schalk began to compose as soon as he picked up his guitar and quickly developed his own voice. In 1992, he formed his own bands with musicians the likes of Wolfgang Puschnig, Harry Sokal, Bumi Fian, Uli Rennert, Werner Feldgrill, Thomas Kugi, Paul Urbanek, Florian Bramboeck, Peter Herbert and many others. Schalk's debut album, The Be Hop Hip Bop, was released in 1993 for the Austrian BMG distributed label West East Music.
Schalk recognizes that he is still a work in progress, and continues to seek the edge of the envelope, the area that just itches to be pushed. Mostly, though, he wants to make his own music on his own terms. “I don't know if there's anything really unique anymore, but I want to develop my language.”
Wolfgang Schalk endorses handmade Strings by Thomastik-Infeld.
world class in every sense of the term...With “Wanted”, Schalk proves once again that some of the strongest and exciting voices in jazz guitar are coming from the other side of the Atlantic. - Just Jazz Guitar
...one of the best jazz guitarists on the US scene (he lives in the US)...Heartily recommended, and I've been playing jazz on the radio for 30 years. - John Motavalli, WPKN Radio, CT
Superb outing by Austrian guitarist is fueled by the forcefully swinging rhythm section... A decided Pat Metheny-Pat Martino influence on the burning title track, the mellow bossa “Monroe Street” and the frantic “A Hip Bop. - JazzTimes (Bill Milkowski)
Schalk's make -it -look -easy swing and brisk, mellifluous lines...the younger axeman tailors the influences to his own ends rather than simply throwing on hand-me-downs.” - Philadelphia Daily News (Critic's picks by Shaun Brady)
a powerful force...Schalk's single-note lines, on both electric and acoustic guitar, evoke the pin-point precision style of Pat Martino with the acumen of Pat Metheny...exceptional release. - All About Jazz (John Barron)
Each ringing note drips with feeling...This is very moving music played with a purpose. - Jazz.com
Wanted is a superlative album. A rarity, that speaks a very special, suggestive, lasting language in the transatlantic world of the jazz guitar. - Jazz Podium (Alexander Schmitz)
The intricate interplay between these four gentlemen is stunning...the music on Wanted is filled with supercharged emotion. - All About Jazz LA (George Harris)
“I agree with others who have said his songs could become jazz standards...a first-rate composer.” - Jazzreview.com
impressive spidery chops...Schalk can’t deny the Wes Montgomery influence in his playing but he’s no mere clone. - Cadence Magazine
Schalk and Brecker are perfect foils...This is a high-caliber chops fest in the best tradition of the jazz-rock idiom. - Jazz.com
Schalk was palatable and creative, while strongly influenced by Pat Martino's blistering and ex-pressive methods,...Schalk's playing was the main focus and he placed away, ... - LA Jazz Scene (Chris Walker)
Schalk lists a pair of Pats - Martino and Metheny - as influences. And both of those disparate styles surface from time to time in his intriguing work. But Schalk's own orientation, which reaches from warm-toned melodic playing to free-style adventuring, are equally present. - Los Angeles Times (Don Heckman)
Like older guitarists such as Jim Hall and Pat Martino and younger players such as Adam Rogers and Kurt Rosenwinkel, Schalk clearly deserves greater recognition for his own soulful articulation and deep skills. - All About Jazz (Mark F.Turner)
His soft tone recalls Wes Montgomery, but his lines are full of surprises and, of course, the tempos are awfully bright. - Los Angeles City Beat
Space Messengers (Universal/Emarcy, 2005)
Rainbows in the Night (West East Music, 2002)
The Second Third Man (West East Music, 1996)
The Be Hop Hip Bop (West East Music, 1993)
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