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Renee Rosnes Attaining for a New Degree


In case you heed her friends and associates’ reviews, Renee Rosnes is the jazz similar of a “five-tool” baseball participant: that uncommon athlete who possesses the technical talents and mental fortitude to excel in all stages of the sport over a sustained length. In lieu of hitting, throwing, fielding, and operating, Vancouver-born Rosnes, 59, has made her mark as an instrumentalist, improviser, composer, arranger, and bandleader, gathering a CV as prominent as any pianist of her technology since she moved to New York in 1986. 

Throughout her first 15 years in New York, Rosnes established impeccable bona fides as each aspect musician and chief. She sound- and beat-sculpted on quite a lot of keyboards with Wayne Shorter and M-BASE influencers Greg Osby and Gary Thomas. She was once an authoritative hardcore jazz practitioner in long-haul relationships with Joe Henderson, J.J. Johnson, James Moody, Bobby Hutcherson, and Lewis Nash, in addition to the Carnegie Corridor Jazz Band and the Dizzy Gillespie All-Stars. She stamped her chic, orchestral conception of the piano trio on 3 glowing requirements albums along with her then-husband Billy Drummond and bass maestro Ray Drummond (no relation). And he or she composed and organized for her personal bands, documenting her output on 8 albums—each and every with its personal unique personality—for Blue Observe, starting with an eponymous 1988 date to which Shorter, Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, and Branford Marsalis contributed.

On Rosnes’ Twentieth and newest date as a pacesetter, Forms of Love (Smoke Periods), conceived and composed on the top of the COVID-19 lockdown, her apex-of-the-pyramid workforce—Chris Potter, saxophones and winds; Christian McBride, bass; Carl Allen, drums; Rogério Boccato, percussion—bounce within the deep finish of the pool on 9 bespoke originals. It’s Rosnes’ 3rd time out for the label, following 2018’s Loved of the Sky (Potter, vibraphonist Steve Nelson, bassist Peter Washington, and drummer Lenny White) and 2016’s Written at the Rocks (Nelson, Washington, saxophonist Steve Wilson, and drummer Invoice Stewart), which function every other 16 Rosnes compositions.

“Smoke Periods has given me the freedom to give myself within the fullest method conceivable artistically,” Rosnes says via telephone from the New Jersey house she stocks with husband Invoice Charlap. “The pandemic gave me an extraordinary period of time to paintings and saved me creatively motivated. I’m usually so busy getting on airplanes that I incessantly lamented now not having solitude to paintings, after which this present offered itself. I felt fulfilled operating each day, week to week, imagining this new album, impressed via the musicians who could be recording with me. I relied on that the song would leap, and the musicians I’d assembled would impart extra intensity and nuance than I even imagined. The bottom line is to all the time permit folks to be themselves.

“I take assets of inspiration from all portions of my lifestyles,” Rosnes continues. She helps to keep a pocket book with concepts spawned when she comes throughout one thing intriguing: a Twentieth-century paintings via Lutoslawski or an 18th-century sarabande from certainly one of Bach’s English Suites; a Lester Younger word from a 1957 solo on “Polka Dots and Moonbeams”; a fraction from a composition via Chick Corea or Thelonious Monk; birdsong; the picture of a panorama, synesthetically refracted into the language of notes and tones. “I analyze why it appealed to me, then discover whether or not I will be able to use any a part of it, whether or not it’s a harmonic development or a rhythmic thought. There’s no finish of uncooked subject material to paintings with.”

“I used to be knocked out via her writing, which was once all the time solid,” says Potter, who first recorded with Rosnes on Ancestors (1995) with Nicholas Payton, Peter Washington, and Al Foster. “However those new tunes felt like every other degree; the way in which she extends her language, the framework she invents—it helps to keep blossoming and blossoming. It’s the specificity of the voicings, how she comprises improvisation into the composition. You are expecting such things as this in a classical piece, the place the whole lot is written out, however you don’t all the time come upon it in jazz. But, it nonetheless feels herbal; while you’re blowing, you’re feeling you’ll be able to play and be your self.”

Renee Rosnes taking part in with Artemis at Newport in 2018 (photograph: Alan Nahigian)

Increasing the Escapade

Christian McBride first recorded with Rosnes on As We Are Now, a 1997 quartet with Potter and Jack DeJohnette, a couple of years after traveling along with her in J.J. Johnson’s crew. “I all the time stay up for taking part in Renee’s song as it’s extremely complicated, with extraordinary intervallic leaps and harmonic progressions, and it’s additionally memorable and singable,” he says. “Her melodies are super-strong—there are lots of good, extremely highbrow composers whose paintings is a laugh to research, however you don’t essentially stroll away buzzing it. I believe she’s been extraordinarily a hit at channeling the storytelling Wayne Shorter does in his long-form writing right into a extra conventional acoustic jazz texture. It’s an escapade.” 

“Renee is a herbal composer, who instinctually is aware of such a lot technically concerning the construction blocks of song that she will be able to lead with the guts and finally end up with one thing this is 100% structurally sound,” Charlap says. That evaluation suits Rosnes’ contributions to Ice at the Hudson (SMK), a 2018 cabaret-jazz venture on which her chic, centered responses to David Hajdu’s well-turned lyrics supplement the voices of René Marie, Janis Siegel, Karen Oberlin, and Darius de Haas. 

“After we have been hatching concepts for songs, Renee was once totally open-minded, so long as the theory is grounded in original human feeling,” Hajdu testifies in an e mail. “We’ve written about lacking a liked one such a lot that you simply’re keen to die to be reunited; about diners and pie; concerning the Gabriola Passage, a herbal formation in Northwestern Canada that Renee unearths profoundly inspiring. No theme is just too daunting, too emotionally sophisticated, too severe, or too foolish for her. Not one of the songs sounds like every of the others, and but they’re all distinctly the paintings of the similar musical intelligence.”

“Open-minded” additionally describes Rosnes’ contributions to the eponymous 2020 Blue Observe free up via Artemis, the all-female collective that she based in 2016 and serves as song director: the sprawling, Nino Rota-ish theme of “Giant Most sensible”; the minimalist, Alec Wilder-ish framing of Cécile McLorin Salvant’s voice on “If It’s Magic” and “Cry, Buttercup, Cry”; and the funky camel-walk lope that propels her association of Lee Morgan’s “The Sidewinder.” In a way, her involvement with Artemis parallels her previous paintings with the SFJAZZ Collective, to which Rosnes contributed 11 compositions and preparations from its inception in 2004 till 2009. That have, Rosnes says, confirmed her “it was once conceivable to have a band of leaders the place egos don’t get in the way in which, to create nice song with solid personalities who surround many viewpoints.”

Allison Miller, Artemis’ drummer, notes Rosnes’ receptivity “to the quite a lot of subgenres each and every musician delivered to the band,” how “she produced the document in some way that made these kinds of different-sounding compositions are compatible in combination as a unmarried frame of labor. 

“Like several my favourite musicians, Renee is ever-evolving,” Miller says. “She has an attractive mixture of group and creativity, which I believe girl bandleaders particularly want to have. She has this skill to herd us all in combination—which isn’t simple, as a result of we each and every have giant reviews and need to give everybody else recommendation. However at this level in her profession, she very humbly and kindly calls for admire. I hang her on a pedestal.”

Hanging with Artemis—clockwise from top left: Noriko Ueda, Rosnes, Ingrid Jensen, Anat Cohen, Allison Miller, and Melissa Aldana
Placing with Artemis—clockwise from most sensible left: Noriko Ueda, Rosnes, Ingrid Jensen, Anat Cohen, Allison Miller, and Melissa Aldana

All Packing containers Checked

Even supposing Rosnes now devotes the preponderance of her time to bandleading and collaborative tasks, she continues to paintings as a sideperson with Ron Carter, her secure employer since 2011—when, at Kenny Barron’s advice, he introduced her into his quartet.

“It’s been atypical to create song with Ron on his phrases night time after night time, at that top degree of consistency,” says Rosnes, who does exactly that on Reside in Stockholm, Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 (In and Out). “I like his spontaneous preparations, the curveballs he throws at me when he’s experimenting or exploring with the unity or the rhythm. There’s numerous consider between us, which contributes to the sensation of liberty and freedom throughout the song.”

“At this level in her profession, she very humbly and kindly calls for admire. I hang her on a pedestal.”—Allison Miller

With planned precision, Carter enumerates the assets of his consider. “I desire a piano participant who reads the song I write,” he starts. The activity description continues: “the power to transcribe songs if I would like them in an instant”; “after I say slightly sooner or slightly slower, they don’t say ‘why?’ or, if I ask them, they are saying ‘That’s too speedy or too gradual’ or ‘Can I recommend one thing?’”; “trusts my downbeat”; “trusts my notes as just right notes to play in a chord—it’s their activity to check out to search out how they may be able to make that are compatible into their scheme”; “has an actual sensitivity concerning the piano quantity and is aware of use the pedals”; “is a 30 minutes early for the entire gigs”; “needs to be within the band.”

He pauses, then, with formality, references Rosnes’ given forename. “Irene suits all the ones bins I simply checked off. After we see each and every different after a protracted layoff, we hug as a result of we pass over each and every different’s significance to the song of our lifestyles.”

Each Carter’s encomium and Barron’s preliminary cosignature spotlight Rosnes’ stature as a “keeper of the flame,” grounded within the aesthetic imperatives that prevailed a few of the masters of swing with whom she performed and to whom she listened intently after arriving in New York. She continuously attended units at Bradley’s, the Greenwich Village piano saloon, via rotation regulars like Barron and Cedar Walton, each common Carter collaborators all through the ’80s and ’90s, in addition to Tommy Flanagan, Hank Jones, Walter Davis, John Hicks, and Richie Beirach (to call a couple of).

“It was once such an schooling, to listen to this degree of mastery any given night time of the week, and it had a big affect at the building of my taking part in,” Rosnes says. “Clearly that exact scene isn’t conceivable anymore—no less than with that many artists and with that frequency; younger musicians aren’t in a position to have that have as it merely doesn’t exist.”

“Renee is aware of put a definite English at the ball,” Potter says, describing how Rosnes comprises the ones reviews in her pianism. “It’s now not simply the notes, it’s the speed and the phraseology; it’s the true language, now not a sequenced model of that language. There’s all this pianistic subtlety that perhaps got here down via other folks like Wynton Kelly, to whom she’s clearly paid very shut consideration. She combines that with classical coaching, so she is aware of make the piano ring, ensure that notes bounce out—make it swing. It’s jazz piano.”

“I need to keep away from husbandly hyperbole,” Charlap qualifies, sooner than examining Rosnes’ artistry. “She’s an impressive accompanist and listener, so seamless and proper inside a rhythm phase, weaving a carpet for the soloists and the remainder of the band,” he says. “In her quiet nature, occasionally she’ll play a solo with such a lot fireplace and so necessary that it occasionally looks like a tidal wave emotionally. She’s an ideal virtuoso pianist, a big soloist with a shockingly gorgeous design to her melodic line, distinctive to her. However she’s were given this more thing, which is a few kind of present from above—or from someplace: Renee can listen anything else. In case you drop a needle on a document, and it’s Stravinsky or Artwork Tatum or absolutely anything, she is aware of each and every unmarried word instantaneously. However that doesn’t educate you style. One can play one thing this is technically proper and but now not in reality a part of the language. It doesn’t should be one thing that’s been executed, but it surely will have to construct on one thing that has existed. And he or she has virtuoso style.” 

“Once I got here to New York, Mulgrew Miller for me was once the reigning champ of New York—the next move after Kenny Barron,” McBride says of the taking part in box he stepped into in 1989. “I believe that method of Renee. She will be able to play with somebody in any taste, any scenario, make it paintings on that song’s phrases, and nonetheless care for her individuality. That, to me, is a real genius.

Renee Rosnes (photo: Shervin Lainez)
Renee Rosnes (photograph: Shervin Lainez)

Out of One, Many

Till she assembled Artemis in March 2016, Rosnes, in each aspect musician and chief roles, was once nearly all the time the one girl at the bandstand. “I discovered a very long time in the past that song transcends gender,” she says. Possibly as a survival mechanism, she has educated herself to shrug off “the various slights that ladies instrumentalists incessantly face” in all sides in their profession. However she mentions a specifically troubling come upon ultimate summer time when she arrived at a New York membership, left unidentified, to accomplish the fourth night time of a week-long run.

“As I approached the doorway, I used to be stopped via the doorman, who clearly didn’t acknowledge me,” Rosnes says. “That’s now not totally extraordinary and doesn’t hassle me. He stated, ‘Excuse me, however do you’ve a price ticket?’ I answered, ‘No, as a result of I’m taking part in within the band.’ He took a step again, eyed me, and mockingly stated, ‘Oh … in reality?’ After a couple of seconds went via, he stated, ‘What do you play? Playing cards? Roulette?’ I simply stood there and checked out him in disbelief. I knew I had choices, however I used to be now not focused on getting riled up sooner than a gig. At that second, the executive simply throughout the door spotted one thing was once amiss, poked his head out, and admonished the doorman for now not letting me via. I made a mindful determination to not permit that have take me out of my zone nor impact my efficiency that night time—but it surely positive feels disappointing when the ones issues occur.”

“When I used to be touring with Renee, she all the time radiated that she felt pleased with who she is,” Potter says. “That were given expressed each musically and in addition the way in which that she handled promoters and the whole lot else. I’m positive numerous stuff were given thrown at her that doesn’t occur to the lads. However she all the time gave the impression very positive of herself. The similar as all musicians, she was once all the time taking a look to make her song on the very best degree it might be able to be. I don’t keep in mind any scenarios the place I felt she was once being disrespected, and I will be able to’t in truth believe her placing up with it, despite the fact that she’s really nice and Canadian and the whole lot like that. Nevertheless it may well be she was once so just right at it that I didn’t even see the struggles she confronted.”

“The doorman stated, ‘Excuse me, however do you’ve a price ticket?’ I answered, ‘No, as a result of I’m taking part in within the band.’ He took a step again, eyed me, and mockingly stated, ‘Oh … in reality?’”

With out diving too deeply into the thickets of dime-store psychology, one may speculate that Rosnes’ company trust within the innate musical items she displayed from early adolescence have allowed her to all the time know her price, immunizing her spirit towards the viruses of misogyny, harassment, and institutional sexism and permitting her to carry a clear-headed can-do angle to any musical scenario she’s encountered. “I didn’t have any one-on-one mentors, male or feminine, who took me beneath their wing once I got here to New York,” she notes. “My mentors was the folks I labored with, simply via the truth that they employed me and I were given to make song with them and be told from them each and every night time.” 

“Renee is for sure a mentor to me,” Miller says. Certainly, it’s increasingly more obvious to Rosnes that she is (and has been for a while) a mentor to a number of generations of more youthful feminine musicians, as she and her Artemis bandmates have been informed at a number of live performance engagements now not lengthy sooner than our dialog. 

“Folks let us know we’ve had an ideal affect, or we see on social media that we’ve moved or inspired any person, that it’s serving to of their adventure or to make choices about what’s conceivable,” Rosnes says. “I hadn’t given it a lot idea, however now I see it manner one thing more than I’d imagined.

“As each and every yr is going via, I see extra younger feminine musicians who play at a top degree on the entire tools. You’ll inform how devoted they’re and the way effectively they play; you simply know they’ll be making a reputation for themselves—and rightly so.”



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