With the October 3, 2006 release of The In Side Out (Advance Dance Disques AD 0353) --
Michele Rosewoman’s first new recording since 2000 and the fifth featuring her
Quintessence – the acclaimed pianist once again makes a powerful creative statement
showcases the breadth and depth or her musicality and affirms in no uncertain terms her
position as one of the most original and innovative instrumentalists and composers on the
current global jazz scene. Ms. Rosewoman is heard here with a core ensemble featuring
the powerful front line of saxophonists Mark Shim and Miguel Zenon augmented by
special guests Dave Fiuczynski on guitar, Josh Roseman on trombone and Pedro Martinez
on percussion. Self-produced, The In Side Out is undoubtedly Rosewoman’s most
faceted recording to date, morphing from acoustic modern jazz to sophisticated funk to
dynamic electric fusion to ecstatic Afro Cuban jazz. As on her previous recordings for
Soul Note, Enja, Evidence, Toshiba/EMI and Blue Note, Rosewoman expands jazz’s
horizons while remaining firmly rooted in the music’s illustrious tradition, and the new
release represents the beginning of an exciting new chapter in the 20-year history of this
highly acclaimed ensemble.
Ms. Rosewoman was born in Oakland, CA where she started playing piano at age six and
studied jazz traditions with the great pianist/organist Ed Kelly. In her late teens she
began playing percussion and studying Cuban/Haitian folkloric idioms. By the time she
moved to New York in 1978, she had already performed at major venues in the San
Francisco Bay Area with her own ensembles and with Julian Priester, Julius Hemphill,
Baikida Carroll and Oliver Lake and other fellow jazz innovators. In New York Rosewoman
formed new ensembles and continued to present her music while collaborating with Rufus
Reid, Reggie Workman, Freddie Waits, James Spaulding, Billy Hart, Carlos Ward and others
as well as with Cuban master drummer/vocalist, Orlando ‘Puntilla’ Rios, and other
musicians in the folkloric community.
A concept that integrated her two musical realms of interest began to take shape, and in
1983 Ms. Rosewoman received a National Endowment for the Arts grant to form the
pioneering 14-piece ensemble “New Yor-Uba, A Musical Celebration of Cuba in
that debuted at The Public Theater that December and appeared at festivals throughout
Europe in 1984. That year, she also made her recording debut as pianist and arranger for
the Cuban songo group, Los Kimy. Her experience as a percussionist continues to shape
many aspects of her music. In the Latin music genre, Rosewoman has performed with
Puntilla’s “Nueva Generacion,” Celia Cruz, Paquito D’Rivera, Nicky Marrero,
and Chocolate among others.
Rosewoman received the ASCAP/Meet the Composer Commission for Emerging Composers
that year (awarded by Dizzy Gillespie, Marian McPartland and Lester Bowie) resulting in a
new work which waas performed at the Cooper Union Great Hall in New York City and the
Paramount Center for the Arts in Peekskill, New York by the 40-piece Brooklyn
Philharmonic Orchestra and a quintet of improvisers, including Rufus Reid, Greg Osby and
Rosewoman’s recording debut as a leader, The Source (Soul Note /1984) was praised
its radiance and ingenuity. Quintessence (Enja/1987) was named by numerous critics and
polls as one of the best jazz releases of the year and has been cited as one of the best
jazz recordings of the 1980's. As Ms. Rosewoman established a reputation as one of the
most ingenious and prolific bandleaders of her generation, Down Beat wrote: "…She
communicates assurance and ardor whether on the cutting edge of jazz or within the
mainstream. What musicianship and moving expression! Bring on the future."
In addition to five recordings with Quintessence, Ms. Rosewoman has two trio recordings:
Occasion To Rise (Evidence/1993), was voted one of the year’s best recordings by six
critics’ polls. The critically acclaimed album Spirit (Blue Note/1996) was recorded live
the Montreal Jazz Festival.
Since it's debut in 1986 at the Cooper Union Great Hall in New York, Quintessence has
been the main vehicle for Rosewoman's evolution as pianist, composer and bandleader.
She assembled dynamic bands to interpret her writing, and became known for bringing
together musicians who today are some of the most inventive voices in jazz, including
saxophonists Steve Coleman, Greg Osby, Gary Thomas, David Sanchez, Steve Wilson,
Miguel Zenon and Mark Shim; trombonist Robin Eubanks,bassists Kenny Davis, Anthony
Cox and Lonnie Plaxico; and drummers Terri Lyne Carrington and Gene Jackson, and
guitarists Liberty Ellman and Dave Fiuczynski, among others. Many have cited the
experience of playing in Quintessence as notably influential in their development as
musicians, composers and bandleaders. Regarding Ms. Rosewoman’s previous
Quintessence release, Guardians of the Light (Enja/2000), an NPR review noted: “…
sounds more than ever the confident master of her committed course. An indomitable
modern jazz pianist, her singular sound ideas expand readily to her dark, fiery ensembles.
So it all comes together, big, tight and flexible, rangy, spontaneous, serious and
mysterious. Rosewoman and her band are jazz believers, jazz devotees, keepers of the
Rosewoman and Quintessence received a 2003 Chamber Music America/Doris Duke
Foundation New Works Creation and Presentation Commission. In 2006 they received one
of the first Chamber Music America Encore Grants. Other recent activity includes a six-
country European tour with trombonist Robin Eubanks and a series of duo performances
with Greg Osby, and a composition department residency at Berklee College of Music.
Rosewoman has appeared at jazz festivals, concert halls and clubs throughout the U.S.,
Canada and Europe including the JVC, Ravinia, Atlanta, San Francisco, Montreal, Toronto,
Vancouver, North Sea, Paris, Warsaw and Berlin jazz festivals and Carnegie Hall, Merkin
Hall, Cooper Union Great Hall, the Public Theater, MOMA, NYU, Temple University, Stanford
University, The Blue Note (New York & Tokyo), the Village Vanguard, The Apollo, Sweet
Basil, Birdland, Jazz Standard, Yoshi's, New Morning (Paris) and the Jazz Café (London).
an educator she conducts classes, workshops and clinics at colleges and universities
around the US while teaching piano and composition privately. Ms. Rosewoman has also
held past and current teaching positions at NYU and the New School for Social Research.
-- By Mitchell Feldman© September 2006