However much Kurt Rosenwinkel has audaciously wandered away from familiar tracks in his career, the spirit of jazz has always stayed central to his roots and his playing. For every surprising exploration such as the electronic Heartcore (Verve, 2003) or the richly dense Caipi (Heartcore, 2017), there's been a relatively straightforward jam or standards date for more traditionalist listeners to appreciate. While Angels Around is clearly one of the more traditional ones even at a glancea simple guitar trio playing a program mostly of time-honored chestnutsthe musicianship and interplay still make this tidy set into a rich whirl through jazz's past and present.
Fittingly, the program tends toward some deep-cut compositions rather than the most obvious ones their respective authors are known for. Thelonious Monk's "Ugly Beauty" eschews the composer's awkwardness to focus on the beauty, creating a breezy almost-tropical feel thanks to Gregory Hutchinson's swaying rhythms and Rosenwinkel's sweet-toned gliding along the frets. When they visit Mr. Paul Chambers next, it's time to clatter and swing in timeless bop style, Dario Deidda spinning a walking bass line that could just keep walking all day and night (barring his supple solo, which is electric in both senses of the word). A couple originals from Rosenwinkel and Deidda fit right alongside the songs of Charles Mingus and Antonio Carlos Jobim, all the pieces old and new giving the players space to paint in their own shades.
The trio gives Joe Henderson's "Punjab" a treatment that stays breezy without going lightweight, the leader and Deidda trading off lead and support as smoothly as Hutchinson's shifting and percolating underneath. Their take on Bill Evans with "Time Remembered," meanwhile, takes a detour from the pianist's trademark romanticism for some sunny and light-swinging grooving with a tinge of samba. As simple as the setup may be, these are players that can span the spectrum of jazz history within it, Rosenwinkel touching on dreamy Grant Green melodicism or Wes Montgomery block-chording as easily as the approachable fusion of John McLaughlin. Anyone familiar with these players should know enough to be open to everything, and a little of everything is exactly what they get here, in an approachable session open to anyone.
Ugly Beauty; Ease It; Self Portrait in Three Colors; Simple #2; Punjab; Time Remembered; Angels Around
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