Readers may remember from previous reviews that I’m a big fan of guitar jazz and also big bands. Kurt Rosenwinkel and the Orquestra Jazz de Matosinhos (OJM) apparently share my interest. After a series of concerts in Portugal in 2008, Rosenwinkel and OJM decided to record an album together. The result was Our Secret World, released in September 2010 by Word of Mouth Music.
They worked together over a six day period in September of 2009 beginning with three days of intense 12-hour rehearsals. Rosenwinkel remembers, “What made the whole project work was the attitude and enthusiasm of all the musicians. It was a great challenge for them and they rose to the occasion.”
Rosenwinkel, motivated by OJM’s selections of his most difficult pieces, agreed to work with charts of his work by OJM’s arrangers, Carlos Azevedo and Pedro Guedes. In addition, two of the tracks were arranged by OJM saxophonist Ohad Talmor. Rosenwinkel’s arranging talents were used on only track 4, “Dream of the Old”.
Prior to this collaboration with Rosenwinkel, OJM, a Portugal-based big band had been involved quite successfully with other artists such as Lee Konitz, American saxophonist Chris Cheek, and singer Maria Rita. Likewise, Rosenwinkel had worked with other big bands like the Concertgebouw Orchestra in the Netherlands and Nonet at the Pori Jazz Festival in Finland. The interest level and timing was perfect for both parties.
Two tracks from this album can be enjoyed on YouTube, “Turns” and “Zhivago” but my favorite tracks were the first, “Our Secret World” and the last two, “Use of Light” and “Path of the Heart”. “Turns” has long been a part of Rosenwinkel’s live sets and not previously released. It’s a fast paced, relentless and urgent piece that ends abruptly on a high note — an excellent lead-in to “Use of Light” a moody and relaxing track. “Path of the Heart” closes the album with a thirteen minute opus showcasing Rosenwinkel’s skills both as a performer and a composer.