Among the current crop of guitarists who are exploring new horizons and gathering an underground following, Ben Monder and Kurt Rosenwinkel are two of the finest players in terms of how they have mastered the tradition and then use that as a launching pad for their own particular tangents. Rosenwinkel has been heard to great advantage lately in a group that he leads at Smalls in New York. He has also been featured with saxophonists Seamus Blake and Mark Turner, two men who also have been lauded for their efforts to usher jazz into the new millennium with style.
All the foregoing brings us to the disc at hand, Intuit, Rosenwinkel's second date as a leader and a major departure from the expected. Instead of what might have made sense for this guitarist, a prickly set of all originals, Kurt opts to explore some well-worn standards, three Charlie Parker lines, and one original from pianist Michael Kanan. So the story goes, Rosenwinkel had been shedding standards with the trio heard here for quite some time and finally decided to catch some of this creative energy on tape. What we end up with is akin to a Keith Jarrett recital of standards. You know, the tunes are familiar, but how they're transformed is something else all together!
Rosenwinkel gets a clean, yet warm sound from his guitar and his improvisations are imbued with the kind of advanced melodic development that marks his writing. Again, if I can push the Jarrett comparison, one gets the sense that Rosenwinkel is at one with the music at hand and even his shorter statements speak volumes to anyone with an ear for standards or jazz guitar. His sidemen certainly do justice to the material and provide great support, but it's really Rosenwinkel who steals the show here. Taken on its own terms, this one comes highly endorsed. It's even further proof, as well, that Rosenwinkel knows his history and is likely to become a force to be reckoned with over the next several years.
Personnel: Kurt Rosenwinkel: guitar: Michael Kanan: piano; Joe Martin: bass; Tim Pleasant: drums.