Following a string of three acclaimed recordings for Verve Records that firmly established him as one of the most strikingly original new voices in jazz as both guitarist and composer (2000’s The Enemies of Energy, 2001’s The Next Step and 2003’s Heartcore), Kurt Rosenwinkel returns with an all-star outing that is perhaps his most luminous and accessible to date. Joined by his high-profile colleagues Brad Mehldau on piano and Joshua Redman on tenor sax, along with Larry Grenadier on bass and either Ali Jackson or longtime associate Jeff Ballard on drums, Rosenwinkel plumbs the depths of emotion and lyricism on Deep Song.
From dynamic new renditions of older compositions like the chops-busting “Synthetics” (from The Enemies of Energy) or the gentle and evocative “Use of Light” (from The Next Step) to hauntingly beautiful interpretations of the standard “If I Should Lose You” and the melancholy Billie Holiday vehicle “Deep Song, ”Rosenwinkel unleashes his typically cascading, sonorous guitar lines with newfound authority. “I feel like as a guitarist I really got to a place of expressive maturity on this record,” says the
Also included in the 74-minute program are new or previously unissued Rosenwinkel originals like “Cake” (based on George Gershwin’s “Let Them Eat Cake”), “Gesture Lester” (an homage to his pianist father), “The Cloister,” “Brooklyn Sometimes” and “The Cross,” each rendered with masterful aplomb by Kurt and company. “The title of this album perfectly expresses where I’m coming from in my approach to jazz,” says the guitarist-composer-bandleader. “The music that I love always had that quality to it. From Billie
While Rosenwinkel had talked in the past about forming a band with Mehldau and Redman, all the pieces didn’t fall into place until last summer when they finally went out on a European tour in preparation for a studio recording. As Kurt explains, “We’ve all been close musical friends for over a decade and there’s always been an understanding and an appreciation for each other’s music. So when I was thinking of what to do next after Heartcore, I immediately thought of Brad and Josh. These guys, of course, are leaders of their own bands and have very busy schedules, but it just so happened that neither of them was touring this last summer. It turned out to be the perfect time to do what we had always talked about doing. So we all got together and had a great time on the tour, and then making the record was a deep pleasure.”
While Mehldau and Rosenwinkel had played together on various sessions and isolated gigs around
Born in 1970, Rosenwinkel attended the Berklee College of Music in
Of the transcendent title track to Deep Song, Rosenwinkel says: “It’s one of the most beautiful pieces of music I’ve ever heard. I’ve been playing that song for many years and I tried to record it a few times, but this time I really felt that we lived up to the spirit of the original. It’s a song that I always play the same way. There’s no solos, it’s all parts. I might improvise a little bit and embellish the parts but basically I’m trying to remain true to the arrangement. That is really the idea and the ideal of playing this song. It’s such a beautiful piece of music that you don’t need to do much else with it other than just play it. As a musician, if the piece of music that I’m playing is inspiring to me, then it’s not like I, by definition, need to solo. I want to make music come alive, but I don’t necessarily need to solo in order to do that. Often times in jazz today people think that it’s just about just taking a solo. And for me, if there’s a beautiful piece of music, I don’t mind playing a part at all.”
Regarding his strikingly original voice on guitar, Rosenwinkel (who also plays piano) is striving for a legato connectivity to the notes in the left hand while retaining a sense of rhythmic syncopation in the right hand. As he told Jazziz magazine: “Basically, I want a cross between Allan Holdsworth and Grant Green, in a sense, but I also want the chordal approach of Keith Jarrett; that pianistic quality of creating harmonic space even as you’re soloing. Of course, Holdsworth does that too with single-note lines, but the integration of chords and melody is something that I really hear in my head now. And Keith is a master of that, as is Bud Powell or Elmo Hope. So you might say that I’m trying to combine aspects of Allan Holdsworth, Grant Green, Keith Jarrett, Bud Powell, and Elmo Hope on the guitar. And I’m making progress little by little in incremental steps. First there’s visualization and then there’s manifestation. And along the way you have to take chances and stay true to your intuition.”