Jazzowa Jesień w Bielsku-Białej 2017: an interview with Kurt Rosenwinkel

Kajetan Prochyra

The mixture of Philadelphia, Berlin and the sounds of Brazil doesn’t seem like an obvious roadmap. How much does the place you live in influence your music?

Each place has its own rhythm and vibe and there's music in everything, so if you can feel that and get with that then your music is going to reflect those places. As an artist I feel combinations and mixtures of musical aesthetics from  all my experiences and everywhere I go...

It took you the whole decade to prepare your latest album “Caipi”. Sounds more-less around the time you’ve moved to Berlin. Was it such a difficult process or was it more of your runaway place from other projects you were involved through those years?

The songs of Caipi were coming very naturally during these ten years. I was creating them very spontaneously during this long time, slowly recording at my home studio and I just knew that they had something together. Finally, I found out that they all have something to do with Brasil and that they are all different to the music I’ve done before. Finally it was so clear that all these pieces belong are just elements of one big concept, one album. The more difficult process came later with finishing and releasing the album and building my own record label Heartcore Records, but I was really enjoying this time and it was a big pleasure to make possible this all happen.

You recorded most of the tracks on “Caipi” on your own. Why?

This was in my mind a kind of Heartcore II, in that it was the same process of finding music on my own and through my own very personal processes, and playing most of the instruments myself as needed, in my own world…

It’s been quite a while since the release of your album “Reflections”. Now your touring again with the Standards Trio – with the new members of the group. How do you work on standards? Through those years, has something changed in your attitude towards them?

We have some simple arrangements and then we just enjoy the communication and the freedom which the songs give to the improvisers. I love standards because it's like a neutral ground to explore your musical approach. They can be interpreted in infinite ways so it's always fun to discover how you want to approach them. But mostly I just enjoy playing those songs because of the songs themselves. One mustn't always try to reinvent the wheel...

Your often called “a guitarist’s guitarist”. What qualities do you appreciate in other guitar players?

Not sure why people say that. I play to music, not to the guitar. Maybe because I have reached a point of development on the instrument where many guitarists are interested in what I do, but I don't really think of myself as a guitarist, I am a composer who plays guitar, and other instruments.

I’ve found this tweet on your timeline: “@kurtrosenwinkel and his sense of harmony reminds me of why I want to keep living and being a better person everyday in this insane world”. Does the current situation on political and social ground influence your music?

I feel it is imperative that I do as much as I can to promote understanding and positive connection between people in this world. After traveling around the world intensely for over twenty years it becomes obvious that we are all really the same at heart and we need to create bridges beyond borders and cultural differences. It's important to stand up for ideas that move humanity forward towards unity and togetherness, to counter the racist and dogmatic mentalities that are out there trying to gain momentum. Music is a powerful medium through which this battle can be fought, so I feel my job in the world has political and social relevance.

I know that, as an independent publisher, you’re joining forces with your friend, Avishai Cohen. Do you have any plans for joining forces as musicians? 

What a fantastic artist he is! I have had the pleasure of working with Avishai in his own bands, as guest with his trio and as a member of his group "New York Division" and I'm sure we willl do more in the future, we do have some ideas...