Micha Schellhaas 2015
Deeper look into a deceptively simple method of a young guitar maven with Transatlantic vector and veterans’ support.
Sharp on attack and sensitive to tradition, this German-born and California-based artist has a lot of front – image, chops, style – so it’s easy to overlook the whole scope of Micha Schellhaas’ performances, and one needs to peel the glossy veneer from his compositions to fully appreciate what’s in there. Predictability doesn’t dwell in Micha’s full-length debut, and if “Slow Blues For B.B.” is an elegant homage to the late King, the electric licks of “Velocity” come devoid of speed: they’re threaded through acoustic ripple before silvery vibes dissolve a sparse melody into bluer bits, and what showing off pours out of “5&6” is compensated with a mighty twang.
Yet the flow feels playful, what with Chad Wackerman and Dave Marotta’s groove growing in dynamics and Jim Cox’s Hammond giving the guitar shuffle for “Ford F-150” to make its sweet move towards Memphis, although jazz is never far from Schellhass’ agenda, and the piano-propelled splashes of “False Fork” point to a much serious game. On a lighter note, fusion lines lurk in a lucid swagger of the title piece – double-tracked in its core, of course, while the second set of six strings on “Texaleans” is supplied by the record’s producer, SUPERTRAMP’s Carl Verheyen. Rhythm explorations add adventurousness to it all, so one never knows what lies around the bend, and keeping the listener hooked is an art in itself: a very promising start.