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Jazz - Released January 1, 2001 | Fresh Sound Records

Distinctions Choc Jazzman
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Blues - Released May 8, 2020 | Heartcore Records

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Jazz - Released March 10, 2017 | Sunnyside

Always a maverick, even when he was touring with Gary Burton straight out of the Berklee College of Music in the 1990s, guitarist/keyboardist Kurt Rosenwinkel has only deepened his individualistic sound over the past 20 years. That said, he's an individualist in service to the music, whose expressive identity was forged out of his ongoing pursuit of a musical ideal. On his previous effort, the atmospheric Star of Jupiter, Rosenwinkel's ideal was an expansive set of layered, modern creative jazz that touched upon the adroit '70s fusion of Pat Metheny, John Scofield, and Larry Coryell. For 2017's Caipi, his first album on his own Heartcore Records, Rosenwinkel expands this sound with a set of highly inventive Brazilian-influenced compositions that bring to mind the work of artists like Flora Purim, Airto Moreira, and Hermeto Pascoal. Although primarily known as a guitarist, here Rosenwinkel plays almost all of the instruments, often overdubbing bass, synth, and drums along with his fluid guitar and piano lines. Also, as on several of his past albums, Rosenwinkel sings; his voice is a charmingly unschooled yet passion-filled instrument perfectly suited to the Brazilian vibe. It's a combination that recalls his 2000 album, The Enemies of Energy. However, while Brazilian music was a minor flourish on that album, on Caipi it is the abiding aesthetic, informing almost all of the 11 tracks. The result is that while Caipi fits nicely next to his other albums, it feels more personal and spiritual. It's an utterly alluring, captivatingly realized production that recalls the late-'70s albums of Wayne Shorter when he brought together a cavalcade of his various loves for avant-garde jazz, electric fusion, Brazilian traditions, pop, Buddhism, art, and even ecology. Helping Rosenwinkel achieve this enlightened sound is a handful of guest vocalists, including Amanda Brecker (daughter of Eliane Elias and Randy Brecker), Pedro Martins, and others, who act as both lead and group vocalists at varying times throughout the album. The cinematically delivered "Casio Escher" finds Brecker and Martins supplying a gorgeous, wordless melody set against Rosenwinkel's fingerpicked guitar lines and Mark Turner's Gato Barbieri-esque saxophone. Similarly, cuts like the layered bossa nova-steeped title track and the fluid "Kama," with its dreamlike synths, Portuguese lyrics, and Giorgio Moroder-esque beat, sound something along the lines of Caetano Veloso backed by Stereolab. There's also a strong post-rock undercurrent to many of the songs on Caipi, with tracks like "Hold On" and "Little Dream" (which also happens to include a subtle guest spot from Eric Clapton) bringing to mind the influential '90s sound of artists like Tortoise, Sea and Cake, and Jim O'Rourke. In that sense, Caipi feels less specifically like a jazz, rock, or even Brazilian fusion album, and simply like a Kurt Rosenwinkel album -- otherwise unclassifiable. As Rosenwinkel sings on "Little Dream," "Always we have to go our way/There is no other way/We have to go our way/And I know that we can live/And be together, on...." © Matt Collar /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2005 | Verve

Guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel's Deep Song is an intimately atmospheric album that finds the ever-reaching jazz musician in the company of a stellar ensemble. Rosenwinkel has always displayed the strong influences of such expansive players as Pat Metheny, John Scofield, and Pat Martino, and tracks such as the continually overlapping "The Cloister" do nothing if not reinforce such high comparative praise. In fact, Rosenwinkel's moody take on "If I Should Lose You" brings to mind such cerebrally mellow Martino classics as We'll Be Together Again and Cream. Joining him here are the deep-color talents of saxophonist Joshua Redman, pianist Brad Mehldau, bassist Larry Grenadier, and drummers Jeff Ballard and Ali Jackson. © Matt Collar /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2003 | Impulse!

With this recording, guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel creates a unique sound world, blending elements of jazz and rock with electronica, occasional Third World strains, and other grooves in an absorbing, inward journey that defies classification. In doing so, Rosenwinkel refuses to limit himself to the guitar, often contributing keyboards, drums, and voice, and at times he takes over entire tracks all by himself via layerings in his Brooklyn studio. The way Rosenwinkel extends his strings of endless melody over an ever-changing harmonic backdrop reminds one of the winding compositions of Wayne Shorter. Indeed, at times he produces a sax-like tone from his guitar, with Mark Turner's duskier tenor sax as a unison co-voice and a foil. "Blue Line" finds Rosenwinkel drumming in the left channel, keeping up a complex groove with drummer Jeff Ballard on the right, eventually overcome by synthesizer washes. "All the Way to Rajasthan" evokes the Pat Metheny sound but the rhythm is fractured and the music seems to have and lack direction at the same time. "Your Vision" is a loop out of a sci-fi film -- all Rosenwinkel except for Andrew D'Angelo's bass clarinet, a truly strange track -- while "Interlude" is another fascinating gauzy bit of electronica at the CD's halfway point. "Thought About You," another one-man track, takes a Turkish rhythmic vamp and gradually builds a moody, enveloping texture. Rosenwinkel claims that the music of Arnold Schoenberg and hip-hop alike inspired another technique on this CD -- producing unusual harmonic textures by means of different dynamic levels on the instruments in the mix. Well, maybe, but in a way, this is 21st century expressionism of a sort, creating levels of ambiguity and uncertainty, leaving the listener out on a limb yet always intrigued. Give it a shot; you may not want to leave this twilight zone. © Richard S. Ginell /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2009 | Criss Cross Jazz

Intuit, a quartet session devoted entirely to standards, is not entirely representative of Kurt Rosenwinkel's art. However, it does reveal the depth of the guitarist's expertise in the bop idiom, and is therefore worth the attention of devoted fans. Rosenwinkel's sound throughout this straight-ahead excursion is fairly dry -- a touch of reverb, no shimmering delay, no ethereal vocalizing, a bit less distinctive than usual. His highly modern approach to harmony often comes through, however, even on vehicles as traditional as "Darn That Dream." And, as always, he uses the physical properties of the guitar to alter the sonic dimensions of his lines, as when he plays a long string of 16th notes near the bridge during his solo on "When Sunny Gets Blue." Other highlights include two fast takes of George Shearing's "Conception" and two less-than-commonplace Charlie Parker heads, "Dewey Square" and "Segment." (Miles Davis's "Sippin' at Bells" is wrongly credited to Parker as well.) Rosenwinkel's partners are pianist Michael Kanan (author of "Epiphany," the date's only original), bassist Joe Martin, and drummer Tim Pleasant. The way he interacts with these straight-ahead players says a great deal about his breadth as a jazz musician. It also foreshadows his later attempts to blur the boundary between standard and original repertoire. © David R. Adler /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1996 | Fresh Sound Records

This little-known gem captures Rosenwinkel live at Smalls, the famous New York jazz club, with Avishai Cohen on bass and Jorge Rossy on drums. Rosenwinkel's guitar style is distinctive and highly developed at this stage. Only two originals appear -- "East Coast Love Affair" and "B Blues" -- and both are mesmerizing, though quite similar in tempo and mood. The remainder of the program consists of standards and jazz classics, all interpreted with gusto and originality. Rosenwinkel's chordal mastery is especially evident on the two Thelonious Monk selections, "Pannonica" and "'Round Midnight." His Latin reading of "All or Nothing at All", like Mark Turner's version on Ballad Session, takes its cue from Coltrane's 1961 version. It's quite a shame that East Coast Love Affair is so hard to find, for the album showcases some of Rosenwinkel's finest playing. © David R. Adler /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2000 | Verve

It's amazing that it took four years for this recording to be released, but Rosenwinkel is an amazing guitarist whose ideas and concepts don't fall into easily pigeonholed or definable terms. His compositions feature complex, brightly colored melodies strung together. As an original, inventive stylist, he's closest to latter-period Pat Martino or early Pat Metheny, but as a sound sculptor, his more electrified guitar resembles John Scofield. Equal partners in this journey are tenor saxophonist Mark Turner, keyboardist Scott Kinsey, bassist Ben Street and drummer Jeff Ballard. The lone non-Rosenwinkel composition, Kinsey's "Point of View," sports lightning-quick counterpoint between the front-line instrumentalists, leading to (not Nat "King" Cole's) "Christmas Song," a dense line that sounds like Santa at 4 a.m. busily dropping off presents and going to the next home. There's a delicate mimimalist piano section at the end with guitar and sax that unfortunately fades out. Acoustic guitar and the leader's voice is used in "The Polish Song," and there are two more intricate pieces in the hypnotic and alluring "#10" and "Dream of the Old"; the former has a bright 4/4 groove supporting a sax/guitar unison voice before some truly lush sampling and electric keyboard assimilations, the latter a diffident 3/4 mood with segregated and unequal factions of melody and harmony, Turner's busy sax contrasting Rosenwinkel and Kinsey's languid statements. A strong vamp sets up the title track as a vehicle for improv in a contemporary calypso rhythm, with piano and bass going at sax and electric guitar, while "Grant" is a funky, interplanetary 6/8 tune with keyboard thrusters launching Rosenwinkel's more legato electrified lines and complex countermelodies before each solo. Clever conceptually, "Cubism" breaks down the twelve major key signatures, one per measure, into beacons of light that come on and off in clarion fashion over a quick samba beat. There's a frantic melody on "Synthetics," and the final selection "Hope & Fear" with its Zen-like melodic technique, on and on with differently shaped phrases, firmly establishes Rosenwinkel's compositional concept and makes you want to listen to this recording over again. Though Rosenwinkel has previous CDs out (on the Criss Cross and Fresh Sound/New Talent labels), this is the one that establishes his individual voice as a composer, bandleader and player. It crosses many boundaries for what is called contemporary jazz, and can easily be recommended not only as an entry point, but a springboard for future high-octane efforts. © Michael G. Nastos /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2000 | Verve

Guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel takes The Next Step in his creative evolution on eight songs that exude several degrees of great jazz. He succeeds in topping the musical tastes presented on his debut release for the Verve label, The Enemies of Energy. Rosenwinkel is one of many young jazz musicians forging ahead into the new millennium with bold musical steps, and the compositions, all of which he wrote, represent the culmination of many life phases for him. First formed as a guitar-bass-drums trio in 1992, Rosenwinkel's band is now a quartet including Mark Turner on tenor saxophone, Ben Street on bass, and Jeff Ballard on drums, all excellent artists in their own right. All four musicians can be heard on The Enemies of Energy, and The Next Step is additional documentation of their relationship as a band. The CD opens with the melodic "Zhivago," a ballad inspired by the imagery of the motion picture Dr. Zhivago. "Minor Blues" is just that -- with an up-tempo groove and plenty of room for improvisation; it is especially memorable. Turner's saxophone workout on "A Shifting Design" is spurred on by the great drumming of Ballard and the alternate tuning of Rosenwinkel's guitar. This song opens with a pensive introduction and develops into a swinging, "shifting design" of notes, chords, and great basslines. Ballard is fascinatingly rhythmic, and uses percussive elements in a wealth of creative experiments. The title track spotlights Rosenwinkel on piano in harmony with Turner's sax and shaded by Ballard and Street's rhythmic finesse. This song has an ageless style, and Rosenwinkel's execution is filled with great improvisational ideas. This is an excellent listening experience that builds from start to finish. © Paula Edelstein /TiVo

Blues - Released April 21, 2020 | Heartcore Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1999 | Fresh Sound Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2008 | Fresh Sound Records

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Blues - Released April 14, 2020 | Heartcore Records

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Jazz - Released May 5, 2014 | Fresh Sound New Talent

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Jazz - Released September 1, 2002 | Fresh Sound Records