Kurt Rosenwinkel and OJM - Our Secret World (Wommusic, 2010)


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Guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel has worked in a number of settings, mostly with small bands so his collaboration with the Portuguese large ensemble Orquestra Jazz de Matosinhos (OJM) makes for some interesting music. The band and featured soloist explore seven of his original compositions, and use subtle shading and texture to throw these performances into interesting relief. “Our Secret World" opens the album and is a true statement of purpose with the subtle shadings of the large band putting a mirror to the everyday world that reflects the music back in a different and unusual way. Taken at a medium tempo with distinctive guitar tones, the music has a majestic feel that is confident and soaring. Rosenwinkel's guitar breaks out for solo, probing the music and the setting, and the horns glide along underneath providing a stable foundation. “The Cloister" has guitar exploring and horns building to a lush feel. The music moves to an open setting, building back up with full dynamic sound, crescendos and uses of loud/soft contrast. The performance develops to a guitar solo backed with piano, bass and drums, building up to lyrical and almost vocal feeling before very majestic guitar backed by full band return the music to a pastel setting. The guitar in a quartet configuration builds darkly on “Zhivago," with the horns adding subtle additions to make to the melody. The music builds tension nicely with repetition, variation and horn encouragements developing into a guitar solo framed against subtle horn. A fast paced and strong guitar solo arcs through the music like electricity while swinging horns add depth and dimension before returning to melody. “Dream of the Old" has a subtle melody stated by horns and lightly strummed guitar building a light feel which is gentle and probing with subtle vocalizations. The pace is dynamic and shifting tempo and texture weave a complex symmetry. Spare and drifting, the music engenders a haunting sensation of suspended floating. Rosenwinkel's guitar solo breaks out supported by urgent piano, bass and drums. The guitar solo builds nicely driving a quartet feature that builds at a fast impressive pace, before shifting back to a setting of subtle harmonizing horns that are well arranged. The music builds to a powerful conclusion with full band backing guitar. Horns riff in swinging fashion with guitar building in fast on “Turns." A fast paced guitar solo develops with a strong pulsing neon sound, giving way to tenor saxophone solo against the piano trio, developing a strong medium nimble tone. Guitar returns shooting sparks against the back drop of the musical sky and to take things to their conclusion. “Use of Light" has a slightly sad, dreamy feel with guitar smears against light backdrop developing a melancholy feel, patient and thoughtful. Texture and shading develop and subtly shift over the course of the performance. Rosenwinkel's guitar tone remains a rich mystery, with a sense of individual development and thoughtful stature. “Path of the Heart" concludes the program with a nervous light drum opening, making way for spare and open guitar. Slow building and atmospheric, the music on this performance is cinematic and mysterious. This was a consistently interesting album, shedding new light on Kurt Rosenwinkel as both a guitarist and a composer. The arrangements are subtle and well done and they add just the right amount of texture and shadow to focus the music's power. Our Secret World—amazon.com

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This story appears courtesy of Music and More by Tim Niland.
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