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As if to quietly utter "enough with talking about the music...," guitarist Wolfgang Schalk gets to the heart of the matter with Word of Ear and lets his playing speak loud and clear. This is his sixth recording as a leader and he continues to reveal expressive phrasing and piercing solos on hollow body electric and acoustic guitars.
Schalk's bicoastal connection between New York and California (currently living in Los Angeles) finds recruiting some local talent in the tremendous rhythm section of drummer Tom Brechtlein and bassist Michael Valerio, who anchor award-winning pianist Helen Sung and George Whitty, on piano and keyboards.
With strong and modern post-bop vibe chops à la Pat Martino and Kevin Eubanks, the set is bookended by "Midnight Prayers," a solo improvisation conceived after a late night recording session which sets a tone that is contemplative and searching. The remaining tracks though, contain a mix of adrenaline ("Eating Melodies"), picturesque balladry found in the title, and a refreshing pieces like the up-tempo cover of Thelonious Monk's "Round Midnight."
"Written Tomorrow" and "Blues 'n' Roll" shout more vociferously and demonstrate the band and Schalk's abilities. The former finds the guitarist slicing through quick runs on acoustic guitar within a rousing tempo. The latter is a funky bluesy groove, with Schalk killing it on electric guitar, thoroughly working the changes as Whitty delivers a nasty solo on electric keyboards. A quote from the great Wes Montgomeryone of Schalk's influences--- sums up the vibe: "regardless of what you play, the biggest thing is keeping the feel going." Which is exactly what Word of Ear accomplishes.
Track Listing: Midnight Prayers (Part 1); Eating Melodies; Round Midnight; Toninho (for Toninho Horta); Broadway Song; Written Tomorrow; Word Of Ear; Blues 'n' Roll; Midnight Prayers (Part 2).
Personnel: Wolfgang Schalk: guitars; Helen Sung: piano (2, 3, 7); George Whitty: piano (4-6), keyboards (8); Michael Valerio: bass; Tom Brechtlein: drums.
I love jazz because my father shard it with me. I was first exposed to jazz as a kid with Eddie Condon records. I met Warren Covington when I was in College and he was leading the Tommy Dorsey Band. I sat in, and very soon after that began singing with a Big Band in Cleveland
I love jazz because my father shard it with me. I was first exposed to jazz as a kid with Eddie Condon records. I met Warren Covington when I was in College and he was leading the Tommy Dorsey Band. I sat in, and very soon after that began singing with a Big Band in Cleveland. The best show I ever attended was Earl Hines when I was in middle school. My Dad took me. The first jazz record I bought was a Dinah Washington LP. My advice to new listeners is to find artists and composers that are not mainstream. Go outside the box. Please don't just purchase what they are pushing on iTunes.