Kurt Rosenwinkel @ U.Va. (Part 2: Saturday)

Kurt Rosenwinkel Signed Cds

How amazingly rare and precious an opportunity it is to glimpse the mind of true artists! And how resonant, attuned, noble, and admirable their philosophy is! Philosophy that does not have to degenerate itself into pitiful rubble of words!

On Saturday morning, the visiting jazz guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel presented a master class to the public, which was like a special lecture. And, let me tell you, it was definitely one of the most impressive and inspiring talk I have ever attended here at U.Va.

The lecture was kind of like a semi-workshop type discussion, where Kurt sits in the front with his guitar, taking questions and answering them with words and melodies. The session continued in a fun, relaxed and intimate mood for about 2 hours.

What Kurt explained and demonstrated with his guitar, from the perspective of jazz theory, I presume, wasn't so outrageously advanced (if it were, we wouldn't have understood what he was talking about). First, he showed us some substitution method with altered chord based on the melodic minor scale whose VIIth note is the root of the dominant. I suppose you can open any jazz theory (Berkeley method) book and find the explanation there, but how valuable it is to hear it in action, from the hands of a musician who really has digested it, has made it his second nature. . .

Then he talked about how he practices. He said that for him the purpose of practice is "to warm up": to align his physicality with the guitar, to attune mind to the kind of music he wants to play. What he said might have been simple, but oh boy, how profound it really is.

Then I asked a question about comping, for that was something I would like to work on especially. He traced the process by which he would approach a new song (when he was a kid, that is): he would start out by taking a tune, play it over and over again until you memorize it, then start finding different paths by which you can approach it. He took the standard "Darn that dream" as an example, and played for a while to demonstrate what kind of thing can be done to the original progression. I'm not even exaggerating: it was like magic, how the music gets transformed, at his will, through his fingers. What a joy it would be to be able to play like that?

But what I think was above all valuable wasn't the taste of jazz theory he imparted, but what he talked about his conception of music, and his passion for it. He emphasized the critical importance of the "singing" element throughout the lecture. For such impulse to sing is truly the beginning of all music. Imagination is another important factor. Always thinking imaginatively, he told us, about what it is that you want to play, what melody, chord, tone, and striving to achieve it, that is what music is for him. By the end of the period I thought I could understand better whence the beautiful melodies that come out of his playing.

There are many other truly stimulating lessons, not just about jazz guitar but about artistic passion in general that could be learned from that short 2 hours. I'm sorry the music department had not, in my opinion, promoted the event very well.

Then at night Kurt was again on stage, as the featured guest guitarist of the winter concert of U.Va. Jazz ensemble. This ensemble is a group of very gifted student musicians whose ambitious and solid performance pleases me always.

In a word: the gig rocked. It was awesome. A series of very original, inspiring tunes (many were compositions of John D'earth, the director) driving the audience, and the ensemble's sound was tight and enjoyable. I was so fortunate, as I was on the previous night, to sit in the very front row, right in front of the legendary guitarist, and witness how true music is being created. I could really here his voice, not just the physical voice (for he sings while he plays), but the melodious voice that is ceaselessly welling inside his spirit.

Oh what a weekend. How so cool. As is the case with most jazz musicians, Kurt was really nice: I was able to talk to him a couple of times and he responded nicely, and he even recognized me at the end of the first set, Saturday night. Ah. This kind of experience drives me more strongly than any other. To where? I'm not quite sure. It's not necessarily music, for me. But I have to do something, and I want to. Recognition that there still remains in my heart something that is capable of burning. An indescribable well of feelings, gushing forth, that one cannot put into words, but can only sing of. . .

Kurt Rosenwinkel Official Web Site

See also: Kurt Rosenwinkel @ U.Va. (Part 1: Friday)

posted by Yuuki at 12:00 | Comment(3) | TrackBack(0) | On Art
Comments to this post
Posted by Kiyo at 02/28/2006 19:34
Posted by Yuuki at 02/28/2006 19:40
Great article!
If you want some transcriptions from Kurt then try this:

Posted by Jens Larsen at 12/08/2007 03:04
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