EDITORS’ PICKS / BY BOBBY REED
Wolfgang Schalk, From Here To There (Frame Up)
Wolfgang Schalk is a guitarist’s guitarist. The six-string superfans who eagerly scoop up albums by Pat Metheny, Al Di Meola or Gilad Hekselman will feel right at home digging into Schalk’s seventh leader disc, From Here To There. The Austrian guitarist is known to many Stateside jazz fans for 1996’s The Second Third Man, an album that featured saxophonist Michael Brecker and later was remixed for a 2013 reissue. On his latest outing, Schalk demonstrates an admirable versatility while remaining firmly grounded in jazz. He opens the program with lovely finger-picking on nylon-string guitar for the meditative tune “Zensibility.” Elsewhere, armed with his electric axe, Schalk strides down intriguing musical paths informed by straightahead jazz (“The Now Catcher”) and bossa nova (“Starlit”). For this project, he surrounded himself with a quartet of superb players: pianist Andy Langham, bassist Carlitos Del Puerto and drummer Clarence Penn. The band shifts into a highly kinetic mode on “Wow Wow What?,” a high-hurdle race that finds the leader and Langham pushing each other frantically forward with hypnotic torrents of notes. Schalk wrote all the tunes on this seven-track program, with the exception of his joyful, deeply creative interpretation of Duke Ellington’s “Satin Doll.” No matter how frenetic or soothing his playing may become, Schalk always plays with a master improviser’s sense of quest.