Just Jazz Guitar
Space Messengers is the fourth release from guitarist Wolfgang Schalk. It is the second release featuring his excellent quartet of Dave Kikoski on piano, Andy McKee on bass, and Ian Froman on drums. Wolfgang Schalk is a tasty improviser. He has a strong Pat Metheny influence in his phrasing, articulations and sound. On the cover it looks like he's holding an ES 175 further adding to the Metheny connection. In the booklet accompanying the CD, he thanks Wes Montgomery, Pat Martino, and Jim Hall, among others. These influences can be heard in the use of octaves, bluesy flourishes, and the pacing of his solos. My favorite solo of his occurs in the tune "Frame Up", which is played on a nylon- string guitar. Also the change in sound of his guitar on this tune is a welcome addition to the overall timbre of the CD.
The CD contains all original compositions. Schalk's writings are modern harmonically, with melody being one of his strong points. One of my favorite tunes is "Gossip," with its harmonized minor melody. The ballad "Anyways" begins with Schalk stating the melody, leading to a beautiful piano solo by Dave Kikoski. "Why Ypsilon" is a swinging uptempo tune featuring excellent group interplay. You can tell that this is a group recording and not a session of hired hands.
Modern jazz guitar playing and writing are well represented on this CD by the capable hands of Wolfgang Schalk.
By Paul Colombo