Bar code: 8427328420167
Guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel's first release as a leader.
The thinking-person's guitar favorite has to be Kurt Rosenwinkel, a dazzling and thoughtful young player who has been refining his playing and writing style for the past several years. Meanwhile, the buzz has steadily grown amongst listeners - including the faithful fans who have packed into his almost-weekly gigs at Smalls, the tiny, atmospheric basement club in New York City. Established musicians the likes of Pat Metheny, John Scofield, and Joshua Redman have also sung his praises, adding to the intrigue. Rosenwinkel was a young musician growing up in his hometown of Philadelphia, who started on piano before switching to guitar. If his major label emergence has been a long time coming, Rosenwinkel has been a diehard music fan from a tender age and has been composing since he was just eight years old and leading his own bands since he was twelve. As a restless teen, Rosenwinkel's ears were bent towards hard rockers like Rand Rhodes and Angus Young, until he heard guitarist Pat Metheny, John Scofield, and Bill Frisell. These three offered Rosenwinkel a window into another, more expansive, musical perspective. He recalls that "listening to those guys opened up a new height and depth for me. They set my sights a lot higher, for awareness of the potential for what you can achieve with the instrument, and with music in general."
After briefly attending the Berklee School of Music, Rosenwinkel jumped into the rapidly-moving stream of New York's jazz scene. He began playing in various settings, including as a member of Paul Motian's unique Electric Bebop Band, in which he plays to this day. But Rosenwinkel's truest passion is reserved for his own material, which he allowed to take shape and has been evolving from the time he began composing to the last several years at Smalls, where he has been working on material with his band. "For me", Rosenwinkel says, "For me, Smalls is so important. There's so much great music there and it has allowed us to develop as a band." A fresh young voice in jazz, serious about his musical art, Rosenwinkel has taken the slow, sure route of the creative artists making sure things were right. The Enemies of Energy is proof that his creative house is in order, with a bright future in the offing. Mostly, Rosenwinkel wants to make his own contribution to the fabric of jazz in the present tense. As he says, "the spirit of jazz is something that is very kinetic and very free. I don't mean free as a stylistic term. I mean not locked in to convention, something truly, inspiringly creative, something that has magic and mystery in it."
"He’s now considered one of the most important guitarists around, but back in 1996 Kurt Rosenwinkel was just starting out on this gig at Small’s Club in New York. He’s teamed with two guys who are also big names these days, as Jorge Rossy/dr and Avishai Cohen/b form an imposing and fresh sounding team on this recording of two originals and 6 jazz standards.
While not as fully formed in concept or style, you can’t deny that he already has his own sound and notation, with a rich use of space and string work on “Lazy Bird” and a hip little “Little White Lies.” Rosenwinkel sounds at home with clever harmonies during the Monk pieces “Pannonica” and “’Round Midnight” and his own pieces already display an impressive maturity. “East Coast Love Affair” and “B. Blues” both have a relaxed mood and groove, but the guitarist’s rabbit trails are already worth following until the final destination. An album that shows tons of promise that has been fulfilled, but can be appreciated on its own merits as well. It’s been hard to find for quite some time, so scoop it up before it disappears again."
George W. Harris (May 30, 2016)
"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. The album showcases some of Rosenwinkel's finest playing."
David R. Adler -All Music Guide