Philipp Schiepek - Golem Dance

Label: Enja, 2019

Personnel – Philipp Schiepek: guitar; Seamus Blake: saxophone; Henning Sieverts: bass; Bastian Jutte: drums.


On his debut album, Munich-based guitarist Philipp Schiepek reveals self-confidence, displaying a full grasp of his guitaristry as he leads a tight quartet. As a composer, he seeks inspiration in everyday encounters as well as characters from literature and art. However, the 10-track Golem Dance also features compositions by fellow countrymen bandmates, bassist Henning Sieverts and drummer Bastian Jutte. Rounding out the group is New York-based tenor saxophonist Seamus Blake, an invaluable first-call musician who unleashes his zealous, big-toned playing on several tunes. The most outstanding are Sieverts’ “All and More”, whose catchy passages recall the association between Chris Cheek and Rosenwinkel on the former’s album I Wish I Knew, and Schiepek’s “Flou”, where he employs multiphonics and trills and get the guitar responding appropriately in order to establish a heated dialogue. This latter piece feels open-ended, carrying some vagueness in its melodic contours and some fragmentation in the rhythmic flux that, feeling great, incites exploration.

Two other Schiepek originals elicit interest: “Ian”, whose initial bass pedal and rim activity evolve into a groove in seven that bounces with shinning post-bop coloring, and “12 Raindrops”, a Joe Henderson-type of 'blue bossa' that brings the fearlessly tractable rhythm section to the front. Expect to stumble upon playful guitar lines, an emphatic bass talk, a dazzling bop-inflected saxophone, and a somewhat timid drum talk from Jutte, who is considerably more outgoing on the uptempo “Up”, a more traditional swinging exercise.

Two of the ten pieces were recorded live at Unterfahrt in Munich, Schiepek’s “Golem Dance”, which has Blake pushing hard against the odd-metered flow granted by the rhythm team, and the jazz standard “Out of Nowhere”, which feels unessential, despite having the soloists expertly navigating the familiar chord progressions. Coincidently, these are the longest tracks on the record, clocking at 7:37 and 11:04, respectively.

With an irregular blues emerging from the center of its gravity, “Even Harder”, another Sieverts’ compositional effort, is dispatched with a warm feeling.

Schiepek’s compositions contain jolting infusions of jazz and his solid first appearance as a leader is demonstrative of the persuasive guitaristic resources he possesses.

Grade  B+

Grade B+

Favorite Tracks:
01 - All and More ► 02 - Ian ► 03 - Flou