Electric guitarist/composer Kurt Rosenwinkel extends his wares while attaining or perhaps advancing to loftier heights on his second release for “Verve” records, titled The Next Step. Here, the guitarist and long time band-mate, tenor saxophonist Mark Turner share the bulk of the soloing in conjunction with bassist Ben Street and drummer Jeff Ballard who provide the powerful yet often agile support throughout this classy outing.
Rosenwinkel artfully inaugurates the proceedings via his crisp, multihued tonalities, wordless vocals and altogether attractive phraseology on the opener, “Zhivago”. The soloists engage in some absolutely delightful harmonic invention on the leader’s wonderfully melodic and thoroughly memorable piece, “Minor Blues”; however, on “A Shifting Design”, the band renders a bouncy and somewhat linearly executed medium tempo bop-ish groove.
The musicians up the ante via some tempestuous call and response style interplay, alternating themes and rapid soloing on “Filters”, whereas the leader switches over to the acoustic piano for the climactic opus and title track, “The Next Step”. With this piece, the band indulges in some potent modern jazz type dialogue as Rosenwinkel’s latest effort presents the listener with a variegated portrait of a group who are seemingly on an upward spiral.
Track Listing: Zhivago; Minor Blues; A Shifting Design; Path of the Heart; Filters; Use of Light; The Next Step; A Life Unfolds.
Personnel: Kurt Rosenwinkel: guitar, piano; Mark Turner: tenor saxophone; Ben Street bass; Jeff Ballard: drums.