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Album Review: 'Reflections' by the Kurt Rosenwinkel Standards Trio

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Kurt Rosenwinkel Standards Trio Reflections
Courtesy of Wommusic
On Kurt Rosenwinkel’s Reflections, the innovative and iconic guitarist isn’t playing any tricks. The melodic phrases are even and tuneful, the harmonies are familiar, and the rhythmic underpinnings and formal architecture are simple and subtle. But, despite a barefaced lack of complexity, Reflections is one of the most exciting albums of the year.

Unlike The Remedy: Live at the Village Vanguard, Rosenwinkel’s previous album featuring genre-defying originals, Reflections contains almost exclusively standard jazz tunes. In a trio including bassist Eric Revis and drummer Eric Harland, Rosenwinkel hits upon a beautiful intersection of progression and tradition. The freshness comes from the guitarist’s unconventional (but now ubiquitous) style. The warmth and familiarity is due to the straightforward and easy presentation.

A melancholia permeates the album, which consists mainly of ballads, including “You’ve Changed,” “More Than You Know,” “You Go to My Head,” which were all written before 1942, and “East Coast Love Affair,” the disc’s one original tune (although it has the feel of a standard).

Two Thelonious Monk tunes are perhaps the highlights of the recording. “Reflections” begins and ends with celestial and yet quirky solo guitar musings. “Ask Me Now” combines a jaunty bounce with an air of veiled wistfulness. Although not formally a blues, the track captures that hard-to-define blues sentiment that makes great jazz what it is.

Two works by Wayne Shorter provide contrast from the predominant swing feels of the album. “Fall” is played with a nonchalant hip hop beat with feint disco undertones. Along with “Ana Maria,” which has a bossa nova vibe, these pieces provide the most overtly modern harmonic content.

Reflections will please just about any listener. It’s simplicity and conventional approach will endear it to people who love jazz for its songs and its deep tradition, and progressive jazz fans will be pleased by the way Rosenwinkel retains his distinctive style in a long-established setting.

Release Date:

November 7th, 2009 on Wommusic

Personnel:

  • Kurt Rosenwinkel – Guitar
  • Eric Revis – Bass
  • Eric Harland – Drums

Track List:

  1. Reflections
  2. You Go To My Head
  3. Fall
  4. East Coast Love Affair
  5. Ask Me Now
  6. Ana Maria
  7. More Than You Know
  8. You’ve Changed
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