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Saturday, May 16, 2020

CD Review: Kurt Rosenwinkel - Angels Around


Kurt Rosenwinkel (guitar); Dario Deidda (bass guitar); Gregory Hutchinson (drums).

The last album of standards by a Kurt Rosenwinkel trio was Relections in 2009. It featured an A-list bass and drums team of Eric Revis and Eric Harland. Angels Around is on his own record label Heartcore Records and features another fantastic band which features bass guitarist Dario Deidda and Gregory Hutchinson on drums.

The album opens with the Thelonious Monk composition Ugly Beauty which grooves with a double time feel from the rhythm section. It’s immediately apparent why Kurt is the most important jazz guitarist of his generation, demonstrating his flawless technique, an endless flow of ideas and a singularly unique sound.

Track two ups the pace with a lesser known blues by legendary bass player Paul Chambers (Miles Davis, John Coltrane) called Ease it, which illustrates how the band can really swing. This is the real deal, ‘Hutch’ and Deidda in support of Kurt wherever he takes it. Kurt’s ferocious solo is followed by a bass solo with Deidda showing what a great changes player he is. At the climax, Kurt trades choruses with Hutch before they head out.

The next track, a well-known Charles Mingus ballad Self Portrait in Three Colors, features more great bass playing from Deidda, with support from Kurt’s always appropriate and sometimes ambient comping. The track builds wonderfully during Kurt’s solo.

Simple #2 is the first of two originals on the album, this one by Kurt, and illustrates his rock influence and shows what a great writer he is, as well as being an astonishing guitarist. The rock influence is emphatic in his composition, sound and playing style on this cut.

Next up is Punjab, a Joe Henderson composition from the album In 'n Out. Another chance to hear some great ensemble playing topped off with Hutch on top form during trades.

The penultimate track is the trio’s take on the Bill Evans classic Time Remembered and this is followed by the title track, written by Deidda. It reminds me of Hope from the Mahavishnu Orchestra album Birds of Fire, which may be deliberate as this was around the time McLaughlin and Devadip Carlos Santana were under the influence of a guru who claimed the constant presence of angels.

The digital album ends with Passarim by Antonio Carlos Jobim as an additional track, featuring more impossibly fast runs from Kurt, but without ever feeling like he’s simply showing off.

The accompanying notes sum the album up nicely: “Angels Around traverses new musical frontiers in the standard jazz idiom. While Rosenwinkel, Hutchinson and Deidda embody and emote the rich traditions of jazz at its purest form, make no mistake, the music is thoroughly contemporary, focused, and for the here and now.”

It’s a given that it should be of interest to any guitarists or guitar enthusiasts, including his use of delay, overdrive and reverb, but it should also appeal to anyone interested in current and future developments in jazz.

It’s available now on digital platforms with a CD and vinyl’s date of June 12. 
Steve T

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