Label/Year: Razdaz Records, 2017
Lineup – Kurt Rosenwinkel: guitars, voice, bass, piano, synth, percussion; Mark Turner: tenor saxophone; Pedro Martins: voice, drums, synth; Frederika Krier: violin; Chris Komer: French horn; Alex Kozmidi: baritone guitar; Eric Clapton: guitar; Andi Haberl: drums; Amanda Brecker: voice; Zola Mennenoh: voice; Kyra Garey: voice; Antonio Loureiro: voice.
Influential American guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel opted to radically change direction in Caipi, a Brazilian jazz fusion record whose concept and compositions had been worked on over the last ten years.
Accompanying the virtuoso guitarist, who also sings and plays bass, keys, and percussion, are international artists of undeniable quality. The lineup includes the saxophonist Mark Turner, multi-instrumentalist Pedro Martins, and intermittent appearances of violinist Frederika Krier, French horn player Chris Komer, baritone guitarist Alex Kozmidi, drummer Andi Haberl, rock/blues guitarist Eric Clapton, and a quartet of vocalists.
A myriad of colorful confetti covers the tropical landscapes described by the title track, where typical Brazilian rhythms fuse seamlessly with the straight-ahead post-bop style that the guitarist has been plunging in. On top of the highly-colored acoustic voicings, the radiance of his effect-drenched electric guitar sound is completely identifiable with previous works, even if applied to a new context.
Both “Kama” and “Casio Vanguard” are inspiringly utopian, having Portuguese lyrics uttered with recurrent falsettos. The former is inundated with synth vibes, acquiring an R&B feel that takes us back to the 80s. In turn, the latter is encircled by a Brazilian pop-folk that combines many influences, from Gilberto Gil to Hermeto Pascoal. Rosenwinkel mesmerizes every time he expresses himself on the guitar.
“Summer Song” is a breezy, ear-catching piece that features singable melodies over an underground dream-pop atmosphere.
A ternary bass groove, glued to a festive samba rhythm, is laid down in “Chromatic B”, creating the ideal conditions for the guitarist’s explorative take offs. It gets us stoned of relaxation before opening a way to a double dose of indie pop with “Hold On” and “Ezra”. The latter, composed for Kurt’s son, features Mark Turner soloing in-the-rhythm.
The saxophonist can be heard again in “Casio Escher”, a floating, feel-good tune initially driven by acoustic guitar and superiorly vocalized by Amanda Brecker and Pedro Martins. It comes recharged by the empowerment and colorful expressiveness of the soloists, Turner and Rosenwinkel, in the case.
Tinged with an Afro-Brazilian rhythm and richly harmonized, “Interscape” is another favorite of mine, and comes shaped by wordless vocals in a grateful exultation of beauty and joy.
Fans of Kurt Rosenwinkel will certainly be surprised with the new path but don’t really have to worry. Firstly, because the compositional expertise and guitar skills of their hero remain intact and recognizable. Secondly, because this fusion sounds good, spreading blissful vibes over the blue skies.
01 – Caipi ► 09 – Casio Escher ►10 – Interscape