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ABOUT WOLFGANG

“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 (Editors’ Picks)
 

“One of the brightest stars in the jazz guitar firmament 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 highlights his membership in the elite club of today’s creative voices. Couleurs Jazz writes “A musician with religious intensity and a composer with heavy virtuosity... a delicacy of decadent genius.” 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 classical guitar. Schalk’s technique is an interesting study. Arch top, electric and acoustic guitars are of equal weight. “The sound is a mind thing”, Wolfgang states. The secret is in the touch.
 

"Dear Earth” is a heartfelt tribute to the planet we are all living on together. The tunes are a selection I picked from music I wrote over the last two years, and I'm genuinely excited to bring them to life in collaboration with my favorite musicians and friends. The world is at a strange point, and the piece AI (Artistic Ideologies) is a mantra to the kind of AI our planetary home is screaming for more than ever—Artistic Ideologies. I thank Arnold Schoenberg for inspiring me with the Twelve-Tone Blues. One day, I woke up with the thought of how a 12-tone method melody would sound within the framework of the 12-bar blues form. So, the first thing in the morning, I swiftly wrote a 12-tone row melody and bass line in a mere 10 minutes. Each note is a different chord, starting with the blues-based 1-4 but then veering into unexpected territory. Motivated by sheer curiosity, I was surprised by the result. On the recording, I took three choruses of improvisation. Carlitos DelPuerto remarked, “man, this is like Giant Steps.” That made me wonder what Mr. Schoenberg himself would have to say," says Schalk, reflecting on his inspiration.

With a stellar band featuring the remarkable rhythm section of Grammy Award-winning bassist Carlitos DelPuerto and Grammy-nominated drummer Oscar Seaton, with outstanding contributions from Latin Grammy-nominated pianist Andy Langham, Schalk delivers a musical journey that captivates listeners from start to finish.

 

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 LA-based Austrian guitarist/composer has recorded nine 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 J. 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.

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