Entangled Music

Frank Wingold

Frank Wingold describes his music as “entangled”. Guitarist, composer and professor of jazz guitar in Osnabrück, Germany, he borrows the term from quantum mechanics. “On an artistic level it’s a fascinating idea for musicians and artists,” he explains. “Two or more particles can act on one another, apparently without communication and become an intertwined system.”

This principle runs through Frank Wingold’s new album, in which he teams up with Robert Landfermann on bass and Jonas Burgwinkel on drums. The trio produces an energetic, lively polyphony in which the three instruments weave and interweave. “Each can be top, middle or bottom of the texture at the same time,” says Frank. “It’s always changing. That’s an idea I like a lot.” He is very concerned though not to make the descriptions too academic and off-putting. The listener is treated to an engrossing, highly original, multidimensional sound in this “parallel world of music”.

Such playing requires both versatility and precision. “I was attracted to the chamber music style trio setting,” explains Frank. “Jonas and Robert together are a very strong rhythm section. They’ve known each other for a long time and they fit together very well.”

Of the tracks on the CD, Bipolar most fulfils the “entangled” idea. Bass and guitar complement each other, even during the solos, and blend effortlessly with the drums. Mr. A is busy today was written by Frank Wingold when his son first went to kindergarten. “His name is Anton. It was the first day when he was out of the house, when he was busy. I had time to sit down and write a tune, and I dedicated it to him.” Adelante is strangely abstract, sounding very Spanish or South American in style. Cowboy Calumet Abuse has more of an ironic feel, “a commentary on country-western music and tex-mex guitar playing.” By contrast Snail Mail offers a slower, heavier pace and Monolith is a ballad with a Balkanesque, heartfelt harmonic structure. In Swindle there is one bar, “which is a little bit too short, it’s missing a 16th, which is hardly audible, so it’s swindled. In German, swindle (Schwindel) also means dizzy as well as cheating. The effect of the wrong meter is rather like an optical illusion. You think there’s something wrong, but you don’t know what.”

Frank Wingold is a great fan of the jazz guitarist Jim Hall and admires his tremendous musicianship. “His path from idea to music is the most direct of all the great jazz guitarists,” he argues. “He’s always very inspiring. When I listen to him, I don’t think – is this modern, traditional, does it fit into 2017? Pure beauty, pure direct activity.” Frank Wingold’s other musical influences include the relatively unknown French composer Henri Dutilleux who created “very beautiful” almost sensuous music and Conlon Nancarrow, USA born, later Mexican citizen, who wrote for auto-playing musical instruments. “He composed on those big paper rolls, sheets which go on the self-playing piano. He cut the holes, long before you could do these things with computers. He was able to realise rhythmical ideas you aren’t able to write down in standard musical notation. Along with these composers, I like the idea of creating one’s own independent uncompromising world.”

In this new album Frank Wingold together with Robert Landfermann and Jonas Burgwinkel bring together their eclectic influences and vast experience from tours, concerts and other musical formations. Their music is high density. The trio develops its sound on different layers. The arrangements allow contrasting melodies to be played out at the same time. They are a masterpiece of composition and improvisation. Replete with textures and ornaments, the music tears apart the traditional allocation of instrumental roles. It amounts to a very personal, emotional expression of musical ideas. Above all it makes for great listening.