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Deep Song

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The following review was first posted on jazz unDone.

As is the case at other major record labels, Verve’s jazz roster is falling apart. Most of their recent releases are by smooth jazz musicians (David Sanborn) or mega-selling singers (Jamie Cullum), and then there are the never-ending reissues. However, on March 1, in a welcome exception to this trend, Verve will issue a new CD by a deserving player: guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel’s Deep Song. I was lucky enough to recieve an advance copy.

Much of Deep Song focuses on intricate arrangements, rather than the usual head-solo-head format. On songs like “The Cloister” and “The Cross,” Rosenwinkel and band (saxophonist Joshua Redman, pianist Brad Mehldau, bassist Larry Genadier, and drummers Jeff Ballard and Ali Jackson, trading turns) refrain from soloing. Instead, Rosenwinkel and Redman play winding, trance-like melodies over the rhythm section’s quiet, intricate vamps. In this way, Deep Song is out of the Miles Davis “Nefertiti” tradition.

A lot of thought went into making this unique recording. Rosenwinkel overdubbed his own voice, so that he sings along with the melodies and his solos. This lends a meditative feeling to the music.

Occasionally, the band steps out to play in a more swinging style. On “Cake,” A Rosenwinkel tune based on George Gershwin’s “Let ‘Em Eat Cake,” the rhythm section masterfully changes the feeling under the soloists: from waltz, to march, to the pulse of a mid-1960’s Wayne Shorter band.

Among Verve’s new releases, Rosenwinkle’s Deep Song is an anomaly in that it is actually interesting. Lets hope Verve keeps him on its roster.

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  • Anders Chan-Tidemann

    Let me add to my above comments, that I do feel that the above reviewer really hits it on the head with his comparison with Nefertiti (the album). There does seem to be a similarity of feel between the 2!

  • Anders Chan-Tidemann

    Actually there are quite extensive solos on both “The Cloister” as well as on “The Cross”.

    Also, Kurt Rosenwinkel did not overdub his voice part, as indicated in the review. He vocalizes while playing the guitar in a way where the voice gives the guitar tone an extra quality, but not in a George Benson manner or even in a Pat Metheny “wordless vocals” kind of way. In Kurt Rosenwinkel’s case the voice is much more subliminal than that.