Acclaimed German guitarist Martin Schulte redefines contemporary jazz on new CD

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Martin Schulte
In his young, tragic life, Kurt Cobain probably never imagined one of his songs would be converted into a freewheeling jazz number. But that's exactly what guitarist Martin Schulte accomplishes on his new album, In Transit, reworking Nirvana's 1993 fuzz bomb “Heart-Shaped Box" into quirky, screeching jazz, complete with sizzling saxophone and Schulte capturing the soft/loud pattern of the original albeit minus the rock element. Indeed, this is not your father's jazz.

Born in Cologne, Germany in 1979, Schulte belongs to a younger generation of jazz players, one that accepted rock & roll—especially modern rock—as a legitimate form of music and isn't scared to incorporate some of its spirit within the tasteful confines of jazz. For Schulte, it all began with an iconic device from the '80s. “I recorded songs at home with an Atari, a sampler, and my guitar when I was younger," he explained. However, his earliest experiences with music weren't about rock. “I started playing classical piano at the age of six," Schulte added. “I think because my brother was playing, too."

Schulte decided to go pro in his late teens, but not with a piano. By the age of 18, Schulte had become a promising new guitarist; today he is one of the most requested local sidemen, versatile enough to juggle jazz alongside funk, pop, and rock. For Schulte, recording In Transit with a band was an experience as enlightening as it was enjoyable. “It was wonderful to hear what other players put into my songs," Schulte revealed. “And it felt great to record my jazz originals for the first time."

The years of performance and collaboration have opened Schulte's mind to music's possibilities and how it can be appreciated. “Although I now understand much more theoretically about music, I'm very happy that the beauty of a simple chord, melody, or song is still there," Schulte said. “I want to play and write music that people can enjoy, and that I can enjoy myself."

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