Sunday 29 March 2009

Kurt Rosenwinkel Trio - Charlie Wright's International Bar, London, 27 March 2009

This was a great gig for me. Kurt is now resident in Berlin, and this is a rare sighting in the UK. I saw him in Paris a few years ago with tenor player Mark Turner and in London with another tenor player, Chris Cheek. Both those gigs focused on Kurt's compositions in the context of a bigger band. This just focused on Kurt the guitarist playing standards with a young rhythm section from Berlin (Gary Hoopengardener - bass, Sebastien Merk - drums).

Kurt started with a standard mid-tempo blues progression. I haven't heard him play a straight blues before, but this was just perfect. His playing was focused and understated and he used plenty of interesting chord voicings to support his melodic playing. It was like a lesson in how to apply George Van Eps Harmonic Mechanisms for Guitar in a modern setting. The guitar was an interesting custom build guitar -I think it was this one from Moffaguitars. The sound on the first number was unadorned, although over the course of the gig there was greater use of the digital delay with expression pedal.

Standards covered included:
- Invitation
- Milestones (old)
- Darn That Dream
- Stablemates
- Parker's Cheryl (I think)
- 'Round About Midnight
- Turn Out the Stars

Kurt looked relaxed throughout. Even at the fastest tempos there was never any sense of hurry. You know that Kurt has put in his 10,000 hours practice and he lives and breathes music. Personally, I don't think there is a more rounded and accomplished guitarists on the planet today. This gig displayed taste, swing, feeling, single note and chordal playing.

The audience was very attentive and is made me think that this would have been similar to seeing him at Small's in NYC about ten years ago. The crowd were predominantly male, and I would imagine many were guitarists (British bass player Jeff Clyne was also in the audience). Certainly, many knew his repertoire.

Charlie Wright's has a great sound - everything was very clear. The bar itself has a Thai restaurant in the back (though sound from it wasn't a problem). Organiser Patsy Craig has plenty of other interesting gigs on there - including Kurt back in a month with saxophonist Will Vinson. Certainly worth the trip up to Brighton, and a place I will be going back to.

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