Guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel takes The Next Step in his creative evolution on eight songs that exude several degrees of great jazz. He succeeds in topping the musical tastes presented on his debut release for the Verve label, The Enemies of Energy. Rosenwinkel is one of many young jazz musicians forging ahead into the new millennium with bold musical steps, and the compositions, all of which he wrote, represent the culmination of many life phases for him. First formed as a guitar-bass-drums trio in 1992, Rosenwinkel's band is now a quartet including Mark Turner on tenor saxophone, Ben Street on bass, and Jeff Ballard on drums, all excellent artists in their own right. All four musicians can be heard on The Enemies of Energy, and The Next Step is additional documentation of their relationship as a band.
Guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel's Deep Song is an intimately atmospheric album that finds the ever-reaching jazz musician in the company of a stellar ensemble. Rosenwinkel has always displayed the strong influences of such expansive players as Pat Metheny, John Scofield, and Pat Martino, and tracks such as the continually overlapping "The Cloister" do nothing if not reinforce such high comparative praise.
Since arriving on the jazz scene as a leader with 1996's East Coast Love Affair, guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel has established a unique voice and place for the guitar in jazz in the 21st century. His nine previous studio recordings have explored different facets of his fluid, yet highly individual style. Some of his earlier records – 2000's The Next Step, 2003's Heartcore, and 2009's Reflections – have revealed how expansive Rosenwinkel's reach is, whether it's exploring space, melody, creating massive grooves, or swinging right from the tradition. As fine as those records all are, it is perhaps Star of Jupiter that makes a definitive case for him as a major voice in the 21st century, as a guitarist and as a composer. Star of Jupiter features a new band, with pianist/keyboardist Aaron Parks, bassist Eric Revis, and drummer Justin Faulkner.
Concerts with Maria Schneider are something special. They are stylistically not only out of the ordinary, they also manage to bring large orchestras to perform artistically at high voltage, with an energy and at a creative level which is otherwise known only in much smaller ensembles. It is not the music alone that drives the participants, but rather the serene seriousness of a band leader who demands a maximum of intensity from her compositions and passes this premise on to their interpretation. It is impossible to conceive of compositions for jazz orchestras more stringently. The instrumentalists know this too, and therefore feel called upon not only to reproduce the charts accurately but to work out all the contained hints, implications, and visions of sound down to the deepest levels. This original recording was made in May 2000 when Schneider appeared alongside the SWR Big Band. And for the SWR Big Band, those days in May 2000 are some of the highlights of their orchestral history.