As a follow-up to the successful double live album The Remedy (ArtistShare, 2008), Rosenwinkel recently released Reflections (Wommusic, 2009), an elegant collection of standards. Rosenwinkel spoke about this latest endeavor from Berlin, the city he now calls home.
Growing Up Philadelphia
All About Jazz: Let's start with some background. You grew up in Philadelphia. How did you first get into music?
Kurt Rosenwinkel: I played my tennis racket along to Peter Frampton. Then went to the piano and made up songs.
AAJ: Were you attracted to jazz from the beginning? How did it develop?
KR: I became interested in jazz in high school, through the talented other students who were into it, and through my friend David Brodie, who is still a jazz bassist in Philadelphia. We listened to a lot of music and his father was friends with a lot of jazz musicians and would host jam sessions at his house.
Before I was in the picture, apparently, Philly Joe Jones used to come over and hang out there too. Then I started going to jam sessions on Mondays at a neighborhood club called the Blue Note, where Tony Williams (the alto saxophonist), Eddie Greene, Sid Simmons, Tyrone Browne, Al Jackson, Mike Boone, and others used to host the session. It was a big club and would be always filled with people all having a good time. I was embraced and encouraged, and loved the feeling there.
AAJ: How did you settle on the guitar as your instrument?
KR: I started piano when I was nine; guitar when I was 12. I always play[ed] both after that point, but was more into guitar. Before I left high school and went to Berklee College of Music to follow my friends, I decided I should take a year of jazz piano lessons and decide which I would focus on at Berklee. I studied with the great Jimmy Amadie for a year, who gave me a strong foundation in jazz harmony, which I thank him for to this day. But I ultimately felt that I was a better guitarist so I should keep going with that.