I kinda panic when people have the same name as me. It’s rooted, I suppose, in revisiting Kurt Vonnegut’s work as an adult and finding it (I don’t even want to type this) ... adolescent. I don’t understand the attention lauded upon Kurt Elling. Kurt Russell’s OK, I guess, but Kurt Schwitters is the only really good one.
Having watched the clip Lena sent, I’ll say yes. Kurt Rosenwinkel is a good guitarist. That’s not really a question. Way better than me, for sure. And definitely a better player than some of my favorite guitarists, such as Loren Connors and Haino Keiji, who aren’t really relying on “chops.” But I don’t find myself wanting to hear more Rosenwinkel. I’m not interested. And I guess that is something I was thinking about when I was looking at guitars and talking to guitarists and writing about all of it.
The notion of playing an instrument as being a form of storytelling is a well-worn cliché, especially in jazz. And somehow, if I hear someone say a soloist was “really saying something,” I somehow suspect that they weren’t. Storytelling isn’t just reciting an Aesop fable everyone knows, or reading Dickens aloud. It’s more than just conveying information. Storytelling involves convincing a listener to follow you when they don’t know where you’re going, and then having them be pleased, shocked or grateful, but having them understand why they were brought to this place.
I want to be told a story, and I didn’t get the feeling that Mr. Rosenwinkel had anything to tell me. I don’t necessarily have to understand the story. I’m not even sure I have to like it. But if the only adjectives in it are “flatted” or “diminished” or “augmented,” then I’m probably not going to be concerned about the characters. I’m about as interested in how technically proficient a musician is as I am how good a typist a novelist is. Mr. Rosenwinkel, best to you. I wish you no ill will, and there’s plenty of people out there who love arpeggios.