Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 16, No.5, 2017

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Robert J. Lewis
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Bernard Dubé
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David Solway
Louis René Beres
Nancy Snipper
Farzana Hassan
Daniel Charchuk
Samuel Burd
Andrée Lafontaine
Marissa Consiglieri de Chackal
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Serge Gamache Emanuel Pordes
Diane Gordon
  Arts Editor
Lydia Schrufer
Mady Bourdage
Chantal Levesque Denis Beaumont
Marcel Dubois
Emanuel Pordes
  Past Jazz Contributors

Tommy Emmanuel
John Stetch
Susie Arioli
Coral Egan
Diana Krall
Stacey Kent
Carol Welsman
Aldo Romano
Denzal Sinclaire
Madeleine Peyroux
Bireli Lagrene
Sonido Isleño
Provost & Lachapelle
Kevin Breit
Sophie Milman
Annie Poulain
Badi Assad
Donato & Bouchard
Ingrid Jensen
John Roney
Russell Malone
David Binney
Mimi Fox
Voo Doo Scat
Coral Egan
Martin Taylor
Jordan Officer
Melody Gardot
Jean Vanasse
Yves Léveillé
Sylvain Provost
Louciana Souza
Patricia Barber
Jill Barber
Corrine Bailey Rae
Chet Doxas
François Bourassa
Sylvain Luc
Neil Cowley
Marianne Trudel
Florence K
Terez Montcalm
Cyrus Chestnut
Tord Gustavsen
Sarah MK
Julie Lamontagne
Vincent Gagnon
Arioli & Officer
Jean Félix Mailloux
Becky Noble
Vijay Iyer
Lionel Loueke
Tia Fuller
Cécile McLorin Salvant
Emma Frank
Shai Maestro
Christine Jensen
Vincent Rehel
Kat Edmonson
Jaga Jazzist
Cline & Lage
Fred Hersch
Gregory Porter
Takuya Kuroda
Edmar Castaneda
Donny McCaslin
2010 Montreal Guitar Show (Sylvan Luc)

Montreal Jazz Festival 2010







Piano Keyboard


by Robert J. Lewis

Featured artist: KURT ROSENWINKEL



I love to be surprised by music.

With 12 major recordings under his belt and at least 30 more as special guest or sideman, we have come to know what to expect from the playbook of Kurt Rosenwinkel, one of jazz’s most influential guitarists during the past 20 years. He has effectively continued the line of musical thought and development pioneered by Pat Metheny. Like the latter, Rosenwinkel’s undeniable gifts and versatility (he is a quick learner) have allowed him to partner with many of today’s elite musicians, and to familiarize himself with the many cross-currents of jazz. And like Metheny, referring to his ground-breaking vocal period that begins with Offramp and continues into Still Life, there was a considerable delay between his initial introduction to the Brazilian interval, and getting down to the hard work of composing in that ever so rich vein.

So for the occasion of his 2017 Montreal International Jazz Festival concert at l’Astral, the last thing I expected was an evening of original compositions inspired by the rhythms and sea breezes of Brazil.

Sandals and starlight
Cocktails and satellites
She likes to watch the waves at night
Till the morning bright (gamache/lewis)

The evening was an homage to and highly personal take on a music that is -- tango notwithstanding -- Latin America’s greatest musical export. From the very first moments of the concert, it became clear that Rosenwinkel would single-handedly evolve the genre. That said, it should be mentioned right off the top that if you had come for the pure, generic Brazilian Songbook, you would have left somewhat disappointed, much like flamenco purists, in the tradition of Manitas de Plata and Sabicus, are invariably let down by the hybrid flamenco of Jesse Cook and Ottmar Liebert.

Kurt Rosenwinkel’s Caipi required ten years in the making. It represents a radical departure from anything he’s ever done. Whether he has self-consciously reinvented himself or perspicaciously decided that composition is ultimately more rewarding (challenging) than improvisation is beside the point if every composer, more than anything else, wants his music to survive the test of time.

Caipi, unapologetically, dedicates itself to song, to the art of composition, with only the smallest emphasis on improvisation – which in the past has been Rosenwinkel’s stock in trade. What distinguishes the compositions are the manner in which they evolve, modulate: the sublime almost imperceptible shifts are lateral – think of the ghostly meeting of sky and sea in a Copacabana dawn. Rosenwinkel has listened to the tone poems of Strauss and has watched the Zen master pass through wall like light through mist. The music’s lateral transitions, accompanied by a most unlikely combination of commonplace voices that somehow speak to the transcendental, take Brazilian music to a new place. As such, Caipi is its own precedent and it may very well turn out to be the last man standing when Kurt Rosenwinkel’s story is finally told.

The compositions are provocatively original and yet familiar. Backed up by second guitarist/singer Pedro Martins and the inventively empathetic Olivia Trummel on the ivories, both solo musicians in their own right, Rosenwinkel has managed to create an ambience that will appeal first to Brazilians for whom sand and samba no longer answer to native angst and ennui, and to disaffected Millenials everywhere caught between the to-have and to-have-not dichotomy and the disembodied escapist fare offered by the ever expanding digital universe.

Caipi asks can you catch the wave, the vibe and leave the turmoil and roiling behind for as long as the songs play and ask to be played again and again: Caipi’s light as a feather feel makes the case that gravity is powerless against the pull of music. Rosenwinkel has taken the earthy, skin-tingling Ipanema sound and turned it into the stuff of levitation, or, (with a nod to The Michael of Hedges), arials without boundaries.

The soloing is almost beside the point and throughout Caipi it is curiously underwhelming. Rosenwinkel retains his patent, highly synthesized metallic sound and stays the course. Since the compositions are so strong, they deserve equally strong solos, the kind we associate with Santana, whose hummable lead guitar improvs have become compositions in their own right. Rosenwinkel shouldn’t allow himself to be hamstrung by the unspoken tyranny that it is infra dig, beneath the dignity of the improviser to repeat a sequence of notes from one night to the next. So until this is resolved, Caipi should be regarded as a major accomplishment in progress, with the success of the follow up very dependent on Rosenwinkel being able to summon the necessary humility that ensures the further refining and evolving of the music.

It’s always a risk when an established, highly reputed musician decides to go where he has never gone before. Rosenwinkel deserves full marks for daring to create outside his comfort zone, and -- categories be damned -- daring to be himself in meticulously composed music that can be regarded as a radiant criticism of everything he’s done in the past.

The concert ended with ecstatic disKurteous, rip-tide applause.



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