Kurt Rosenwinkel Quartet: Intuit

The guitarist's 1998 album, now on vinyl, illustrates both his modernism and a continuity with Benson, Montgomery and even Charlie Christian

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For those of a certain age the re-proliferation of vinyl is exquisitely ironic. For a “dead” medium, vinyl has now been properly revivified to the extent that its sales now outstrip CDs. A classic example of this paradox is to be found in this Kurt Rosenwinkel reissue on double LP.

Intuit was first released on CD in 1999 and the vinyl reissue is proof, if any more were needed, that people are buying this format in droves. Also, the price of an LP is now actually proportionate to the days when vinyl was king, thanks to the ravages of inflation. The cost is relatively not as alarmingly high as might be assumed when buying a newly pressed double LP for nearly £40; a single Blue Note new vinyl record for example retails at around £23 and that’s the market average.

The irony continues with Intuit, inasmuch as since this is Rosenwinkel’s standards album vinyl somehow seems the more appropriate medium.

Rosenwinkel is widely regarded as one of the premier new-wave jazz guitarists who ploughs a different furrow to others. But here at times he seems to emulate the greats of the golden age of jazz guitar. Names such as Wes Montgomery and George Benson spring to mind. There’s even a touch of Charlie Christan and Django Reinhardt, as heard on the frenetically paced reading of Miles Davis’s Sippin’ At Bells.

He can do ballads too, gracing Michael Kanan’s Epiphany with rapid back and forward plectrum strokes, the guitar sounding almost like a mandolin. On Charlie Parker’s Segment he deploys rapid staccato with ease whilst on George Gershwin’s old warhorse Summertime he manages to insert some off-kilter searching notes that make the listener sit up and take notice.

Rosenwinkel doesn’t need to try too hard either since even as a young student and after studying at Berklee College of Music for only two and a half years he left to tour with Gary Burton, the college’s dean at the time. On this, his fourth album, recorded in 1998 when he was 27, he sounds like he’d been playing for decades.

As one would expect with Rosenwinkel, there isn’t a mediocre track on these four sides; they are all executed in an exemplary manner with some truly outstanding playing. Even back in the 1990s this guitarist didn’t need to pay his dues with a bunch of oldies but goodies, but with this album he indisputably proves his virtuosity, simultaneously breathing new life into old tunes.

Discography
How Deep Is The Ocean; Conception; Darn That Dream; Dewey Square; When Sunny Gets Blue; Sippin’ At Bell’s; Epiphany; Segment; Summertime; Conception II (70.44)
Rosenwinkel (elg); Michael Kanan (p); Joe Martin (b); Tim Pleasant (d). Brooklyn, NY, 14 & 15 August, 1998.
Elemental Music 1160LP