Wommusic – Catalog #WOM0001
Release Date: 03/21/2008
- Chords (16:21 min)
- The Remedy (11:37 min)
- Flute (14:23 min)
- Life Unfolds (17:52 min)
- View From Moscow (12:51 min)
- Terra Nova (11:42 min)
- Safe Corners (17:12 min)
- Myron’s World (19:13 min)
Kurt Rosenwinkel: Guitar; Mark Turner: Tenor Saxophone; Aaron Goldberg: Piano; Joe Martin: Bass; Eric Harland: Drums
What is “the remedy”? Ask a simple question and you may get a simple answer. “Music is the remedy,” replies Kurt Rosenwinkel. It’s hard to imagine a more suitable title, then, for the guitarist’s brilliant new album, The Remedy: Live at the Village Vanguard. With this two-disc release, Rosenwinkel puts forward his entry in a long line of historic live recordings from the famed New York jazz club, following in the footsteps of John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Sonny Rollins, Keith Jarrett, Joe Henderson, Woody Shaw and others. Like his friends and peers Brad Mehldau, Chris Potter, The Bad Plus and others, Rosenwinkel has become a regular and much- valued presence at the Vanguard, helping to carry the club’s mission forward into the new millennium.
Following an artistically successful four-album run with Verve Records, The Remedy also has the distinction of being released on Wommusic – a label started by Kurt’s manager to allow them independence in releasing Kurt’s music. “I’m looking forward to making this album work in the new industry paradigm,” Rosenwinkel offers. “I have a positive outlook on the situation and believe it’s a good time to be an entrepreneur. I am grateful to have had the support of a great label like Verve, but I am also looking forward to not having to pay for CEO salaries, Times Square ofﬁce space, Blackberrys and expense accounts with my record sales.”
One of the most original and inﬂuential guitarists, jazz musicians & composers of his generation, Rosenwinkel is heard on The Remedy leading a marvelous quintet, with Mark Turner, his longtime musical partner, on tenor sax; Aaron Goldberg on piano; Joe Martin on bass; and Eric Harland on drums. The rapport between the players is reﬁned and explosive. Much of the material played during that auspicious January week in 2006 was new and previously unrecorded. The Remedy marks the ﬁrst live documentation of Rosenwinkel’s touring group recorded live in a venue that has had much to do with the development of its group sound.
“The energy that week was exhilarating,” Rosenwinkel recalls. “We were playing a lot of new songs and yet we had a bedrock of conﬁdence from having found ourselves as a band. I appreciate the high level of craft and instrumental accomplishment that these musicians bring, but beyond that, I look for people who play as part of a group, with heart and total focus — toca y sabor,” he continues, using the Spanish phrase for “touch and taste.” “There was no pressure about recording,” he adds, “because we didn’t change anything in our process. I wanted the band to be recorded as it naturally was. So we all felt comfortable and inspired and concentrated on the music.
” In addition to his quickly identiﬁable voice on the guitar, Rosenwinkel has a rare gift as a composer. The music on The Remedy resounds with melodic clarity, harmonic mystery, rhythmic intrigue, improvisational surprise and a kind of spiritual power. As for the inspiration behind the tunes, Rosenwinkel again resorts to simple answers. About “Flute,” he declares: “I love the ﬂute.” And “Chords”? “I love harmony,” he says. From such basic impulses came musical statements of fantastic complexity and ambition.
The two older pieces on the album include “A Life Unfolds” and “Myron’s World.” Rosenwinkel explains the former, a ghostly ballad originally from the 2000 album The Next Step, as “an homage to the passing of time and the witnessing of how our lives unfold. We are all stories that are unfolding.” The latter, an epic uptempo burner, is Mark Turner’s tribute to fellow saxophonist Myron Walden, from the 2001 Turner album Dharma Days, and the one non-Rosenwinkel composition of the set. The tempestuous 12/8 piece “View from Moscow” and the deliciously unhurried “Terra Nova” were both inspired by Rosenwinkel’s visit to Russia. “It was interesting to contemplate the western world from that location,” he says. “The city planning embodies such a completely different ideology. Being in the midst of Moscow’s epic scale makes one feel the radically different ways people can live from each other.”
“Safe Corners” begins with a spellbinding solo guitar introduction, in which Kurt’s signature hushed vocals and instrumental voices become one. The piece evolves into a jazz ballad with a distinctly bluesy tinge and a deep and patient swing feel. “This song,” he says, “is about the little lives that take place in the cracks of the pavement, in those tiny safe corners, safe from our human world; living their lives from start to ﬁnish without a thought for or from us.” A native of the great jazz city of Philadelphia, Rosenwinkel studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston and gained his ﬁrst formative professional experiences in bands led by Gary Burton and Paul Motian.
He soon became a major force on the New York scene, gaining a reputation as an innovative bandleader, composer and improviser. He displayed a strong command of jazz tradition and a great love of standard tunes, but also a determination to articulate his own language and create on his own terms. Following his early albums East Coast Love Affair and Intuit came four highly regarded discs on the Verve label: The Enemies of Energy, The Next Step, Heartcore and Deep Song. In particular, Heartcore, co-produced by Q- Tip (formerly of A Tribe Called Quest), revealed Rosenwinkel’s life of sonic exploration beyond the jazz realm. The Remedy preserves that aesthetic newness in the context of a live acoustic quintet.
As he progressed steadily as a leader and sideman with the likes of Joe Henderson, Brian Blade, Joshua Redman and Danilo Perez, Rosenwinkel also garnered impressive professional and critical acclaim. However, following his most productive and visible years in New York, Rosenwinkel made an important and bold decision together with his wife, Rebecca, to relocate to Europe in 2003 — ﬁrst to Zurich, Switzerland, then to his current home in Berlin, Germany. He now is a tenured professor and teaches at the Jazz Institute of Berlin and has two young sons, Silas and Ezra.
“Berlin is a fascinating and dynamic city,” Rosenwinkel says. “It’s closer to how I felt in New York — people all around me doing things that are off the grid.
With The Remedy as the opening shot in a new phase of Rosenwinkel’s career, there is no limit to where his prodigious talent might lead him.