Saturday, December 12, 2009

Kurt Rosenwinkel interview at All About Jazz

Besides being one of my favorite players and composers on the planet, Kurt Rosenwinkel is one of the most thoughtful and straight-shooting people an interviewer can ask for. This interview at All About Jazz is short, but worth reading. Here are a few of my favorite parts.

AAJ: Did you have a breakthrough moment when you committed to a career in jazz, or did it more evolve naturally over time?

KR: I committed to playing music for my life when I was nine! Since then, it's never been a question. So, I never committed to a career in jazz. It's all just music to me. Whether it's this or that, I like it all—mostly. I became a jazz musician because so much of the music I love is called that, and it inspired me to learn and grow in that direction.

AAJ: You mentioned, in a previous interview, that you moved to Europe because of a healthier lifestyle—better healthcare, etc. That was over six years ago, and while certainly the American lifestyle hasn't gone through a wholesale evolution, a lot has changed. It is arguably a different time in America now. Do you envision returning to the States at some point?

KR: For now I am cool where I am. I don't think it has gotten any better in the States in terms of the cost of raising a family. If anything, it's gotten worse. It costs next to nothing to send a child to school here, all the way through 'til [a] Master's degree. Health care is affordable. I am not bombarded with advertising everywhere I go, and people are generally pretty cool. That said, it is not my culture, and I do feel the sense that I "belong" more to the States than to "Europe."

But then again, I don't wanna belong. I don't want to be a part of that larger cultural conversation in the United States. I don't share the same experience or assumptions about life that most people do here or there, so it ain't really that simple.

Mostly it really just boils down to that my kids are in Berlin, so I will stay in Berlin.

AAJ: You chose to work with Eric Revis and Eric Harland. What about their playing fit this project?

Eric Revis and Eric Harland are the musicians I wanted to play with because they are both open minded and spontaneous, listening musicians. And also, as Ethan Iverson puts it in the liner notes, they are "committed to the straight-ahead mission," which means that we aren't trying to reinvent the wheel here, but rather play in the more traditional jazz conception that we love and know.

That said, there is no dogma involved and that is a critical point. I cannot play with anyone who is playing music from a dogmatic approach. But I also am not about throwing the baby out with the bathwater either. I love the jazz tradition, that is to say the music of jazz. And I know that we share this attitude, and I have had great experiences playing with Eric and Eric in lots of situations.

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