Kurt Rosenwinkel

Star of Jupiter

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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. It includes 12 Rosenwinkel compositions, ranging over two discs and nearly 90 minutes. The music is often dreamy and spacious; it is exceptionally lyrical, yet also revels in exploratory harmonic investigation, deep listening, and a stinging precision. His beautifully processed guitar sound sets the tone for a slippery, shapeshifting ride across different jazz styles. There are straight-ahead, hard boppish swingers such as "Mr. Hope" and "Homage a Mitch," a shimmering jazz waltz ("Something, Sometime"), midtempo ballads ("Spirit Kiss"), and a post-bop modal exploration ("Deja Vu"). But there are also soulful groovers, such as the lengthy yet laid-back "Heavenly Bodies," with gorgeous interplay between Rosenwinkel and Parks. Modernism shows it face in "Gamma Band," where the guitarist's razor-like precision plays against Faulkner's rim shots and double timing to create a riff-oriented jazz-rock meld that looks directly forward and never forsakes the soulfulness for athleticism. Two other tracks, "Kurt I" and the title number, prove excellent showcases for Rosenwinkel's deft, inquisitive, and deeply intuitive, song-like soloing. A new version of "A Shifting Design" (a cut that first appeared on The Next Step) provides exceptional evidence of just how much Rosenwinkel has grown as both a soloist and arranger since 2000. Star of Jupiter is a rare recording. Not only does it offer the widest and deepest portrait of Rosenwinkel as a mature, fully formed artist, but even at this length, it leaves the listener desiring more.

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