I have found that musicians, particularly jazz musicians (and even more so guitar players for some reason) are rather apprehensive about talking about their influences. This video then is certainly a deviation from the norm. Kurt Rosenwinkel is almost prolific in his citations, jumping into a variety of genres and styles. I find a few of these particularly interesting:
Bud Powell and Booker Little – I have a sneaking suspicion that the references of both Powell and Booker Little are a result of recent listening habits. Not to say that he isn’t significantly influenced by them, but I can’t really imagine Rosenwinkel, as a young, budding guitar player, getting much out of them initially.
Allan Holdsworth – I bet a lot of people would not expect this, but it makes perfect sense. Allan Holdsworth was an early champion of the legato playing style, which would eventually become a trademark of Rosenwinkel’s sound (and the sound of all his imitators). Holdsworth used to say he wanted his guitar to sound like a horn player, something that Rosenwinkel definitely tries to achieve and has furthered by his singing/chorus effect. What is most interesting about this influence is that Rosenwinkel has come to represent a very specific type of scene and player, and I can assure you that many people who consider themselves big Rosenwinkel fans would probably scoff at the thought of listening to (let alone being influenced by) Holdsworth. To me it just shows that Kurt Rosenwinkel is a very open-minded musician.
Tal Farlow and George Van Eps – These influences are probably what, at a young age, set Rosenwinkel apart from other players coming up. Infamously underrated and under-appreciated, Farlow and Van Eps were often overshadowed by the players that they in turn influenced, such as George Benson. Rosenwinkel is clearly influenced by Farlow’s chord-voicings and Van Eps’ comping style.
Elmo Hope and Frank Hewitt – I’m thinking that this was a reverse influence. Frank Hewitt, who became popular in the Smalls scene that Rosenwinkel was a part of in the early 90’s (and who never made a single recording with the exception of some posthumously released live recordings) cited the cult figure pianist Elmo Hope as a major influence. Hope was, like Farlow and Van Eps, infamously under-recognized. Stylistically somewhere between Powell and Monk, he has been a major cult figure along with Herbie Nichols since early 90’s. It seems as though the resurgence of such players’ popularity in the early 90’s coincided with the various NY scenes that came up at the same time. Such as the smalls scene in Manhattan (Elmo Hope–>Frank Hewitt) and the Jazz Composers Collective in Brooklyn (Herbie Nichols–>Ben Allison).
Biggie Smalls – Not a joke, I can assure you.