Roman Ott: Hey Ro

Convincing altoist recalls Paul Desmond and Jackie McLean in solid set lit up by guitar virtuoso Kurt Rosenwinkel


Uri Gincel’s ruminative opening piano flurries on Begin Again give no clue as to his subsequent fleet-footed soloing later in the piece underpinned by McCoy Tyner-esque chords gradually ceding to American virtuoso Kurt Rosenwinkel’s spectacularly lithe guitar lines. This is juxtaposed with leader Roman Ott’s paradoxically searching alto solo.

This opener also belies the solidness and cohesion of the succeeding nine tracks. The swinging Up To You, for example, is a perfect testimony to the quintet’s ability to motor along with both finesse and energy.

Ott effortlessly channels the cool richness of Paul Desmond on the sumptuous ballad Everyday and by contrast on Fourteen he emulates the fiery keenness of Jackie McLean. Rosenwinkel’s soloing on Some Tears Are From Laughing displays languid, thoughtful dexterity. But Ott and Rosenwinkel are often heard sparring with each other as at the conclusion of Steroids Lost (a track again embellished with some magnificent guitar work) and in unison on Hey Ro.

Rosenwinkel is a true guitar star, and it’s no exaggeration to point out that his lightning legato lines, also heard to stunning effect on I Know I Know, frequently resemble those of the late Allan Holdsworth, which is no mean feat. But far from being copies, his coruscating guitar runs are the product of over 30 years meticulously honing his art. 

Ott originally started out with a quartet comprising fellow alumni from Jazz Institute Berlin which included drummer Peter Gall who has played on all his albums including his first Inner Shape (Traumton Records, 2007). Hey Ro is the third collaboration between Ott and Rosenwinkel, whose previous two albums If You Lived Here You’d Be Home By Now (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2014) and Seeing People (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2009) also utilised a quintet configuration.

Judging by this compositionally well-constructed album, replete with the leader’s convincing alto work and Rosenwinkel’s dynamic presence, Ott seems to have arrived at a superbly winning formula.

Begin Again; I Know I Know; Fourteen; Everyday; Averna; Up To You; Some Tears Are From Laughing; Steroids Lost; Hey Ro; Begin Again Again (71.31)
Ott (as); Kurt Rosenwinkel (elg); Uri Gincel (p); Lars Gühlcke (b); Peter Gall (d). Berlin, 5 and 6 November 2019.
Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT617