Music News

Kurt Rosenwinkel Visits the Vanguard

The list of musicians who've played New York City's Village Vanguard throughout its seventy-year history reads like a who's who of jazz. Luminaries such as John Coltrane, Bill Evans and Sonny Rollins celebrated live albums there. Guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel, who kicked off his musical career playing with Gary Burton and Paul Motian, recently finished a week-long stint at the Vanguard.

"When you play at the Vanguard," he says, "you are supported by the spirits that have lived there. It's a deep feeling, very meaningful."

Those jazz spirits seem to have influenced the guitarist on his brand-new album, The Remedy: Live at the Village Vanguard, a phenomenal two-disc set of new and previously unrecorded material taken from a week at the jazz club in January 2006. It also marks the guitarist's first live record, which is being released through artistShare. After releasing four discs on Verve, Rosenwinkel decided to bypass the corporate music structure.

"It took a long time to figure out exactly how to go about releasing it since it's our first self-released CD," he says of The Remedy. "It also took me a while to mix it. We explored lots of options of how to release it, which all took time."

The Remedy was certainly worth the wait. Rosenwinkel's playing throughout is extraordinary. His attack on the notes is strong, and he makes each note ring through. Whether he's running through fluid Allan Holdsworth-inspired legato lines or laying down his own unique riffs, Rosenwinkel's tone is as distinctive as his phrasing.

"I always played with some delay, reverb and distortion," he says. "At a certain point, I added the voice, which I blend in with a lapel mike. Sometimes I go without the mike, depending on the venue, but I'm always singing what I play, ghosting the notes. It gives a human quality to the sound, not just guitar. About a year and a half ago, I started using Fender Twin Reverb amps. This record is the last time I will record with a Polytone amp; I've converted to tubes now. I use the expression pedal with the delay to control the amount of delay signal present in the sound. It allows me to simulate the way a pianist uses a sustain pedal."

Speaking of pianists, the guitarist will bring 24-year-old Aaron Parks, whom he calls a "young genius," along to his weekend show at Dazzle. Also in tow will be bassist Ben Street, drummer Jochen Rückert and tenor saxophonist Mark Turner, with whom Rosenwinkel has collaborated for the last decade and who also appears on The Remedy. "He's my main man," Rosenwinkel says of Turner. "We play with one mind together."

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Jon Solomon writes about music and nightlife for Westword, where he's been the Clubs Editor since 2006.
Contact: Jon Solomon