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Kurt Rosenwinkel's Heartcore caught jazz fans by surprise last year. Despite its wondrous, thick textures and mixtures of rhythms, the disc was initially overlooked, then slowly crawled into the psyche of the jazz community to become one of the most important releases of the year. With Deep Song, the guitarist drops most of his usual band, links up with wunderkinds Joshua Redman, Brad Mehldau, and Larry Grenadier, and pares down the rhythmic/sonic complexities in order to explore the possibilities of group interplay and improvisation.
Simply listening to thee songs, it is difficult to believe that this is even Rosenwinkel's record. Mehldau's reflective and dramatic piano opens up the session and three of the other songs; Redman's macho tenor states the theme for the remaining Rosenwinkel's originals. Only the two standards ("Deep Song" and "If I Should Lose You") are stated and dominated by Rosenwinkel's rich and robust guitar strings. And they are both played with depth and restraint. This is not pretty music, but beautiful.
Deep Song comes off as more a collection of themes than melodies. Rosenwinkel's solos reflect that idea, more like ruminations and reflections than statements of a danceable melody. Always interesting and intriguing, his solos are paintings in themselves, requiring multiple exposures to appreciate. He's not afraid to demonstrate his chops, as on "Synthetics," but he's more content here to create passages and contemplative moods, as the title suggests. Stay tuned for further communications from this important source.
Track Listing: The Cloister; Brooklyn Sometimes; The Cross; If I Should Lose You; Synthetics; Use of Light; Cake; Deep Song; Gesture; The Next Step.
Personnel: Kurt Rosenwinkel: guitar, vocals, piano (2); Brad Mehldau: piano (1-7, 9, 10); Joshua Redman: tenor saxophone (1, 3-10); Larry Grenadier: bass; Jeff Ballard: drums (3-5, 8); Ali Jackson: drums (1, 2, 6, 7, 10, 11).