All About Jazz
By John Barron
Guitarist/composer Wolfgang Schalk draws inspiration from his experiences on the New York and Los Angeles jazz scenes. These varied musical environments have led the Austrian native down a divergent musical path, colored with a variety of textures and moods. For Wanted, his fifth release as a leader, the guitarist teams up with pianist Geoffrey Keezer, drummer Marvin "Smitty" Smith and the late bassist Dave Carpenter. The combined musicianship of the quartet is a powerful force, skillfully exploring a set of progressive jazz originals penned by Schalk. 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. With a stripped-down tone, the guitarist rips through the title track, "Monroe Street" and "W 46" with inventive phrasing, adhering to a traditional jazz guitar aesthetic, yet remaining void of cliche. By contrast, listener-friendly tunes like "A New something" and "And Harry Said Goodbye" bring out a more patient and lyrical side to Schalk's improvising. A musical high-point of the disc is the up-tempo "A Hip Bop," a hard-swinging, modal workout, providing ample stretching room for all. The tune features Smith's explosive drumming, Carpenter's flawless walking pulse and Keezer's flowing spontaneity—one of many examples of sophisticated musical camaraderie found throughout this exceptional release.
All About Jazz
By Mark F. Turner
With full hollow-bodied goodness, guitarist Wolfgang Schalk delivers his most heartfelt recording to date with Wanted. Recorded in Los Angeles, Schalk not only switched locations from his bi-coastal residencies in New York but also sports a new quartet with veteran aces Geoffrey Keezer (piano), Marvin "Smitty" Smith (drums) and bassist Dave Carpenter, who sadly passed away in June 2008. Schalk has recorded a number of noteworthy recordings including 2005's Space Messengers (Universal Music Group). He continues to refine a sound that is not only well informed of Wes Montgomery modalities, but also possesses its own post bop ideas as heard in the attractive Latin-tinged ballad "A New Something" (with impeccable acoustic guitar) and the inflammable groove "A Hip Bop." Never underestimating the power of swing, the quartet gives a clinic on its finer points—syncopation, symbiotic communication and soulful empathy. This is evidenced on the knotted tempo of the title song and "W 46" (a fitting dedication to Wes Montgomery) as Schalk's chorded runs and single note solos are equaled in intensity by Keezer's lightning keys, only to be mirrored in spots by Smitty's quick cymbal taps and Carpenter's walking bass. To say that the band is tight would be an understatement. There's also moving balladry as heard on the emotive "And Harry Said Goodbye," dedicated to another Schalk influence, European guitar master, Harry Pepl. His tonality and phrasing on this piece is delicate and warm while Carpenter provides a wonderful deep solo that proved a mastery that will surely be missed. The recording ends with "Last Minute," an uplifting number that swings with elegance and sparkling musicianship from everyone.