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Kurt Rosenwinkel: Heartcore

It’s one of the music industry’s quiet ironies that jazz, arguably the most free flowing of genres, often calcifies in a studio setting. Despite many plausible explanations for this condition, the biggest factors are simply money and its coefficient, time. A pop album can unfold over the course of months-like a summer romance, with its gradual epiphanies and shifts of mood. By contrast, the typical jazz date is a one-night stand: quick and no-nonsense, a casual affair. And while jazz history brims with artists who’ve delivered perfect on-the-spot performances, this situation can often limit the capricious powers of the muse. As Verve Music Group A&R chief Jason Olaine recently observed: “Jazz doesn’t have the kind of budgets that pop records have, so we’re forced to go in and play what we’ve rehearsed, or music that’s written. There’s actually less improvisation from a certain standpoint, in terms of the collaborative process, than there is with more commercial music.”

Olaine served as executive producer of Heartcore, Kurt Rosenwinkel’s third recording for Verve. But the album was emphatically produced by the guitarist himself, in the cluttered comfort of his home studio in the Carroll Gardens section of Brooklyn. Along with the rapper Q-Tip, who receives a coproducer credit but otherwise stays behind the scenes, Rosenwinkel has crafted an album that heeds a deeply intimate jazz impulse yet shimmers with the procedural gloss of pop. One that gets the sense that it’s the record he’s been waiting to make for some time.

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