Biography of Kurt Rosenwinkel

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Elizabeth BachelderBenedict GoodfriendAlan Weinstein   Guests: Roger ChaseKurt Rosenwinkel
Kurt Rosenwinkel
Photo by Lourdes Delgado

Kurt Rosenwinkel (born October 28, 1970) is an American jazz guitarist and keyboardist who came to prominence in the 1990s.

He attended the Berklee School of Music for two and a half years before leaving in his junior year to tour with Gary Burton, the dean of the school at the time. Subsequently, Rosenwinkel moved to Brooklyn, where he continued to develop his jazz guitar skills by performing with Human Feel, Paul Motian's Electric Bebop Band, Joe Henderson Group, and the Brian Blade Fellowship. During that time he began using a Lavalier lapel microphone fed into his guitar amplifier that blends his vocalizing with his guitar and has become a trademark of his sound, both live and in the studio. This sound is reminiscent of the sound made famous by the Pat Metheny Group (unison lines played by guitar and vocals).

In 1995 he won the Composer's Award from the National Endowment for the Arts and was eventually signed by Verve Records. Since then, he has played and recorded as both a leader and sideman with fellow-alumni such as Mark Turner and Brad Mehldau as well as many others. During Rosenwinkel's tenure with Verve he collaborated with Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest, who co-produced his studio album Heartcore (2003) that featured bassist Ben Street, drummer Jeff Ballard and saxophonist Mark Turner and was a departure from the usual compositional process for Rosenwinkel, blending elements of jazz, rock, hip hop and electronica. He would further collaborate with Q-Tip, performing guitar on the latter's albums The Renaissance (2008) and Kamaal/The Abstract (2009).

Rosenwinkel has since released a double live album as bandleader. The album is entitled The Remedy - Live at the Village Vanguard (2008) and features Mark Turner, Aaron Goldberg, Joe Martin and Eric Harland. On November 10, 2009, Rosenwinkel released a trio recording, Standards Trio: Reflections (2009), which features Eric Revis on bass and Eric Harland on drums. On September 7, 2010, Rosenwinkel released his ninth album as a leader, entitled Kurt Rosenwinkel & OJM: Our Secret World (2010) and featuring OJM an 18-piece big band from Porto, Portugal.

Originally from Philadelphia, Kurt Rosenwinkel currently resides in Berlin, Germany, raising his two sons Silas and Ezra and serving as professor of jazz guitar at the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler.

Rosenwinkel is known for his distinct sound and style of improvisation. He describes his influences as artists as diverse as Allan Holdsworth, George Van Eps, Booker Little, Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Pat Metheny, Marbin, Bud Powell, and Elmo Hope and The Notorious B.I.G.

Kurt Rosenwinkel simultaneously utilizes a wide variety of effects units, each with a very specific function and effect on the guitar's sound. He has used many pedals including: Pro Co RAT distortion, TC Electronic Nova Reverb, Lehle D. Loop Effect-loop/Switcher, Strymon Blue Sky Reverb, Strymon El Capistan dTApe Echo, Malekko Echo 600 Dark, Old World Audio 1960 Compressor,Electro-Harmonix HOG Polyphonic Guitar Synthesizer, Empress ParaEq Equalizers, Eventide TimeFactor Delay, Xotic X-Blender Effects Loops, Empress Tremolo, Lehle Parallel line mixer, TC Electronic SCF stereo chorus flanger, and Boss Corporation OC-3 octave, among many others. Most often seen playing his D'Angelico New Yorker semi-hollow guitar, he also plays a Sadowsky semi-hollow, a cherry red Gibson ES-335, and more recently two custom guitars made for him by Italian guitar-maker and master luthier Domenico Moffa.

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