“Wolfgang Schalk is a guitarist’s guitarist... No matter how frenetic or soothing his playing may become, Schalk always plays with a master improviser’s sense of quest.” - DownBeat
“For some time now Wolfgang Schalk has shown that he is one of the brightest stars in the jazz guitar firmament. On his new release, he turns up the wattage and delivers his strongest CD to date and one of the best jazz releases this year.” - Tom Evered, fmr GM & SVP, Blue Note Records
Hailed by critics in the US and Europe as “one of the best jazz guitarists”, Wolfgang 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 today’s creative voices. Schalk’s original pieces are solid and thought provoking. The music is driven by Wolfgang’s distinctive sound and edgy conception, demonstrating his virtuosity on both, arch top and on nylon string acoustic guitar.
“Obsession is my tribute to the dedication to music and art. It is also a mantra for the responsibility which comes attached to it. It is something you have in your veins and something that is always with you, no matter what you are doing. And the process itself is about the creating because it needs to be done. It is not about what the result will be or could be.”
Recalling the sounds of esteemed fret-board masters Wes Montgomery, Pat Martino, George Benson, John Scofield, John McLaughlin and Pat Metheny, Schalk expands on the tradition by playing dynamic music expressing thoughtfulness and original artistic abilities as one of the most talented guitarists of his generation.
The execution of the music from Wolfgang and his stellar band strikes a strong chord -- Andy Langham (piano), Carlitos Del Puerto (bass), Gene Coye (drums), and Luisito Quintero (percussion). These players sound so good together on "ObSession" that a spiritual chemistry was formed!
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, the bi-coastal (NY/LA) jazz guitarist has recorded eight albums as a leader with mostly original music. His previous recordings 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 15-time Grammy award-winning Michael Brecker, Dave Kikoski, Geoffrey Keezer, Rick Margitza, John Beasley, George Whitty, Dave Carpenter and Marvin “Smitty” Smith to name a few. Noted jazz writer Hank Bordowitz wrote about Wolfgang's NY dedut, “Michael Brecker delivered some of his finest blowing 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. 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 played in different fusion, jazz and pop projects in Graz before he moved to Vienna, where he pursued studio work to perform with a wide variety of bands. Not content to play only "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 started forming his own bands with musicians the likes of Wolfgang Puschnig, Harry Sokal, Bumi Fian, Uli Rennert, Werner Feldgrill, Thomas Kugi, Paul Urbanek, Florian Bramboeck, Thomas Lang, 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 Vienna.