Kurt Rosenwinkel Standards Trio – Reflections – 2009
Wommusic – Catalog #WOM0002
Release Date: 11/17/2009
“Kurt Rosenwinkel is rightfully most celebrated for being a 21-century innovator of new music,” begins the liner notes by Ethan Iverson for Rosenwinkel’s latest album (his eighth as leader) titled, Standards Trio: Reflections.
“This album of standards offers a clear view of Kurt as a jazz guru.” A onetime sideman in Gary Burton & Joe Henderson’s bands, Rosenwinkel has released a string of some of the most potent and original recordings of the last decade.
Kurt Rosenwinkel: guitar; Eric Revis : bass; Eric Harland: drums
On Standards Trio: Reflections, the highly anticipated followup to 2007’s dynamic The Remedy: Live at the Village Vanguard, he delves into the harmonic fabric of several beautiful standards in an intimate trio setting, accompanied by bassist Eric Revis (a longtime member of the Branford Marsalis Quartet) and drummer Eric Harland (a member of the Charles Lloyd Quartet and the SFJAZZ Collective).
Whereas Kurt Rosenwinkel’s previous album The Remedy – Live At The Village Vanguard caught Kurt with his quintet in a high-wired set of extended solos on original compositions, on Reflections he luxuriates in an almost-all-ballads program. From relaxed renditions of Wayne Shorter’s “Ana Maria” and “Fall,” to elegant interpretations of Thelonious Monk’s “Ask Me Now” and “Reflections” to gorgeous readings of standards like “More Than You’ll Know,” “You’ve Changed” and “You Go To My Head,” Rosenwinkel embraces these timeless melodies with rare nuance and soul.
He includes one original in the collection, a stirring remake of the title track from his 1996 debut as a leader “East Coast Love Affair” (the whole album of which has just been transcribed into book form and released by Mel Bay) a song of which Iverson states: “Kurt has been playing this as long as I’ve been listening to him. At this point it almost qualifies as a standard.”
“I wanted to have a very intimate and acoustic sound on this record,” says the Philadelphia native who currently resides in Berlin. “And I wanted to sort of go back to my Philly roots in terms of getting into the blues in my playing, because I often don’t bring that out at all. But I’ve just been feeling that side of things lately and I wanted to play in that way on this project.”
In some ways, this outing is a return to 1998’s Intuit, a collection of standards in a quartet setting. But more than ten years down the road, Rosenwinkel’s sound is warmer, fuller and his approach to the instrument more refined. While that earlier standards project included such challenging, chops-busting burners as Charlie Parker’s “Sippin’ at Bells” and George Shearing’s “Conception,” this time out the emphasis is almost exclusively on ballads. And working without a piano in the group is a bit like a high wire act working without a net. “My first record, East Coast Love Affair, was also a trio standards recording,” he says, “but I feel like I have more to say as an artist in that context. And as a guitarist I just wanted to explore that open, beautiful space again.”
While East Coast Love Affair was recorded for the small independent label out of Spain, Fresh Sound New Talent, and Intuit was released on the Dutch label Criss Cross, Rosenwinkel’s first widespread recognition Stateside came with the release of The Enemies of Energy, his 2000 Verve Records debut. He followed that with 2001’s acclaimed The Next Step, which further developed the songcraft and unique harmonic language he was developing with tenor saxophonist and kindred spirit Mark Turner. 2003’s adventurous Heartcore, which combined elements of jazz, electronica, hip-hop and ambient music, was co-produced by rapper Q-Tip from the pioneering alternative hip-hop trio A Tribe Called Quest.
And on 2005’s Deep Song, Rosenwinkel joined forces with like-minded colleagues Brad Mehldau, Joshua Redman, Larry Grenadier, Ali Jackson and Jeff Ballard. 2007’s The Remedy captured the guitarist’s working quintet (saxophonist Turner, pianist Aaron Goldberg, bassist Joe Martin and drummer Harland) during a week-long engagement at New York’s fabled jazz club, the Village Vanguard.
After the pyrotechnics of that invigorating live outing, Reflections is like a cleansing breath for Rosenwinkel. Perhaps Rosenwinkel’s most refined and engaging project to date, Reflections reveals a warmer side to this gifted, multi-directional musician.
“There’s this kind of fluidity and architecture in the lines that he plays that I don’t think I’ve heard anybody else do. There’s a mystery in it to me. It’s not obviously derived from some other player. He’s really developed his own language with the musical information and physically the way he’s playing the instrument.” – Bill Frisell
“Kurt Rosenwinkel is re-defining the mainstream” – Jon Garelick, Boston Phoenixn
“There [is] a streak of otherworldliness in his playing, but also a sense of deep familiarity.” – Nate Chinen, The New York Times
“Rosenwinkel’s music represents the sound of the future-just as bebop once did.” – Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune
Tagged as Reflections, Standards Trio + Categorized as Music