Hiatus Blues

Frank Wingold Trio – Hiatus Blues

Frank Wingold’s new album Hiatus Blues is released by BERTHOLD records on March 29th. The line up: Frank Wingold (guitar), Robert Landfermann (bass) and Jonas Burgwinkel (drums).


Wingold’s music is spirited and complex, yet elegant. The guitarist composed all the tracks on Hiatus Blues. He chose the album title, also the name of the first piece, because, as he explains, the music is, “a 24 bar Blues with gaps between the melody fragments which fill up as the melody, or improvisations, develop.” Though not a scientist, he takes much inspiration from physics and chemistry. “The gaps of nothingness also relate to molecules and tiny elements. It’s astonishing how much space is between them,” he says, “and this is reflected in the music.”


The track Nucleus explores the idea of molecules heating up and spinning towards chaos. “Here, I work with complementary melodies between bass and guitar,” explains the composer. “It starts simply, then notes are added and it becomes so busy it’s almost unplayable. Robert Landfermann is one of the few double bass players I know who can play this with such virtuosity and yet with the necessary ease.” At the end of the piece, following improvisations, the mood is reversed, the heated material cools down and fewer notes are played. Wingold recalls one concert with a professor of quantum mechanics in the audience. “I felt very intimidated when doing my announcements, but he was very relaxed, and afterwards he said – it’s all OK.”


The virtuosity and mutual understanding between the three musicians allow for much lilting subtlety and interactivity. The tracks are varied, some such as Torque are energetic, “like a spinning motor.” Horror Vacui by contrast deals with the fear of emptiness, space and the abyss. “I like this tune a lot,” says Wingold. “It shows how I like to compose. In the beginning there’s only one note, which gradually gets filled up. There’s a simple melody above, and bass and guitar are playing complementary lines which are melodic cascades going very low, like looking into a black hole, into hell, only seeing darkness.”

Flare, then again, is a much lighter, flurrying melody. “It’s almost minimal music, very repetitive,” says the composer, “and for greater variety there’s also Agitango, a tango inspired track on the album.”


Wingold likes to think of his music visually, in graphic structures and textures. His technique as a guitarist has developed away from the traditional electric guitar approach. “I use a thumb-pick and with enhanced nails I play with all fingers, even the pinkie, because I have a seven-string guitar and have to deal with one more string.” The extra string allows him a much greater range and access to lower notes. He talks of performing as if playing a piano, with an almost orchestral approach to the guitar.


Wingold is Professor of Jazz Guitar at the Institute for Music (University of Applied Sciences – Osnabrück). He enjoys teaching his students his developing techniques, but, as he explains, “I don’t want to force them into any direction. It would be absurd to say to my students you can’t play with the traditional pick techniques. I just show them possibilities and encourage them to do other things.”


Influenced by classical, blues and ragtime finger-style guitarists, his own sound is unashamedly polyphonic and he masters the complexity with feeling and clarity. Together with Landfermann and Burgwinkel, the music produced on Hiatus Blues is both intellectually stimulating and entertaining.


Ian Bild – December 2023