Michele Rosewoman



The In Side Out, pianist Michele Rosewoman's first album in more than six years begins with a brisk stutter-step groove---infectious, snug and a terrifc reminder of what we've been missing. "Cuerpolarity" serves as a sneaky palette cleanser, a minute-long dance-floor breaker. Its energy bubbles over into the entire disc. Rosewoman is one of the under-the-radar stars of American music. She's a mistress of integrating forms.

Pianist Michele Rosewoman's fusion of Afro-Cuban folkloric music and post-bop jazz avoids the obvious without being obscure. Her compositions layer whip-smart riffs and catchy melodies that create riveting push-pull rhythm tensions. The melodies in "Warm" sizzle and dance like water on a hot griddle and launch the band into some blistering solos. With her percussive attack and two-handed style, Rosewoman's solo on "Link" is bristling with rhythmic clashes and harmonic daring, her right hand lines dancing through a thicket of dense chordsOnce again, Rosewoman shows that she's an original thinker making uncompromising and forward-looking jazz - which just happens to be accessible and viscerally exciting. One of her strongest outings.

Rosewoman has a gift for explosive melody lines that shoot out sparklike in unexpected directions, and her keyboard improvisations are likewise multi-directional and propulsive...Rosewoman's piano work balances a Bill Evans-like neoclassicism with a propulsive attack and an adventurous harmonic imagination... Dance with the spirits of the ancestors, as this ensemble does so deftly.

Pianist Michele Rosewoman's The In Side Out is stimulating, unpredictable, and groove-centric... She plays a rapid and probing acoustic piano with heady comping and elaborate soloing reminiscent of contemporaries such as Edsel Gomez and Geri Allen. The In Side Out has it all; intellect, spirit, and soul; and is a fine display of one of jazz's leading ...artists - one who won't be easily categorized or boxed in.

...Michele Rosewoman [is] a superbly accomplished pianist, composer and visionary who has created a passionate production with "The In Side Out"... Rosewoman's perceptive experimentation is the work of a master - a master who puts her listeners in a state of awe...[her] music touches the intellect and the heart. Watch out! Michele has got her Mojo working... Ase!

...Rosewoman presents a program incorporating a variety of musical styles which both influenced her and illustrate her range as an artist. The In Side Out is a fine representation of her creative spirit and a welcome addition to her recorded output.

As Michele Rosewoman and her Quintessence project evolve, the music continually reflects all the influences that have shaped this most intriguing composer and pianist... Rosewoman is a propulsive bandleader and guides the listeners and the players on a most seductive journey... the players show a true love for the groove and the music, as Rosewoman has done throughout her career and now on this terrific recording.


"No other pianist-composer in jazz brings the music of the African diaspora together quite like Michele Rosewoman. One of the most compelling inside-out pianists in jazz, Rosewoman combines a myriad of influences, including Herbie Hancock, Cecil Taylor, and Thelonious Monk. Guardians of the Light shows that in her playing and writing, Rosewoman is way past collecting influences. Simply put, she's one of the most creative and fully realized jazz artists on the scene today."

"Brilliant writing and fluid ensemble playing abound."

"On her latest...[Rosewoman] sounds more than ever the confident master of her committed course. An indomitable modern jazz pianist, her singular sound ideas expand readily to her dark, fiery ensembles. So it all comes together - big, tight and flexible, rangy, spontaneous, serious and mysterious. Rosewoman and her band are jazz believers, jazz devotees, keepers of the flame."

"Aside from her sinewy, rippling piano work, Rosewoman's greatest strength is her ability to encompass so much of jazz's tradition without sounding like she's merely copping a style or paying tribute to a master in lieu of having anything original to say... Her quintet burns with the intensity of one of Woody Shaw's great hard bop units, yet it can also step lightly through the dance rhythms...and turn up the funk...For the uninitiated this is a well-balanced introduction to a musician whose spirit is infectious."


"...one of the most impressive and innovative of 90's jazz artists. She is both an engaging composer and a challenging pianist."

"On Spirit, Rosewoman is at her peak...solo passages burst from her fingers as if they were contents under pressure. Rosewoman certainly hasn't gone soft on her major label debut."

"Rosewoman revels in the joy she finds at the heart of whatever she plays; her greatest talent is her ability to communicate that to the listener. Without a doubt, Michele Rosewoman is an important voice for the future of jazz. But make no mistake; she's doing it in the here and now."

"Spirit reflects a remarkably mature musical sense...[Rosewoman's] playing is passionate, her compositions complex and her ideas fascinating. She converts 'When Sonny Gets Blue' into a jazz classic, and 'For Agayu' radiates with a Latin glow."


"I nominate pianist Michele Rosewoman as an heir
to Henry's [Threadgill] throne. She writes works that are marvelously intricate, deeply complex, and a joy to listen to. On 'Harvest', she concocts a delicious cross-cultural stew of musical styles, blending jazz, Cuban and African rhythms to gorgeously textural effect."

"Michele Rosewoman's third Enja quintet date is brimming with the hard-nosed playing and fluent writing that has made her one of the more intriguing pianists to emerge in the past decade. Rosewoman digs deep into the modern jazz piano tradition and the West African origins of Cuban music to create a program that has the exciting immediacy of hard bop and the unfolding depth of Santeria ritual. 'Harvest' is a persuasive statement of Rosewoman's talent, passion and determination."

"With delicate beauty and intensity, Michele's music bends the borders of cultures, not just notes. ...She has picked up a variety of torches and created a bonfire."


"This is an exemplary trio affair and a keyboard triumph."

"Michele Rosewoman has probed many important junctures in jazz history. She's fluent in Monk, Bill Evans and Bud Powell, but her influences don't end there. While many players bask in the comfortable glow of fifties retro bop, Rosewoman adopts the more inclusive vision of subsequent turbulent decades. [She] is a modern day lightning rod to the innovations of the past and the tense uncertainties of today."

"For adventurous spirit and balance, it's hard to top Michele Rosewoman's trio....[Her] playing has an aggressive edge as well as a flair for melodrama and swing. The rapport in the trio is exceptional."

"Rosewoman has come up with an all-embracing style that takes in everything from Tatum to Cecil Taylor. Occasion To Rise is a resplendent piano trio release. Without a doubt this is what piano trio jazz is all about. Accept no substitutes."

"OTR is an important nineties recording because it spotlights Rosewoman's heavier and bolder touch, signifying an expansive new edge that many fans search for in new recordings. Ralph Peterson and Rufus Reid answer the rhythmic call to Rosewoman's explosive activism."


"...blues and atonality, free jazz and rock rhythms, creamy arrangements, broken chords, strict form and overboarding joy. African roots and European modernism...it is astonishing how these disparate elements fuse into an organic unity."

"...an energized aural landscape covering strikingly varied musical territory. Rosewoman's fresh vision brings unity to the total picture...Rosewoman's third as a leader, her dynamic compositions and piano playing illuminate the ensemble's direction and stirring performance."

"She brings a rhythmic vitality to her composing and playing that is absolutely original and even when meshed in the ensemble, her rhythms drive the quintet as much as the bass and drums."


"She communicates assurance and ardor whether on the cutting edge of jazz or within the mainstream. What musicianship and moving expression! Bring on the future."

" Ms. Rosewoman's piano combines a fluid sense of line with tensile strength...and powerhouse drive. 'Quintessence' is one of the more encouraging recent signs that a new generation of musicians, influenced equally by free jazz, the be-bop revival, funk and Afro-Latin music, is creating a timely syntheses all its own."

"Rosewoman's writing is jubilant and architectonic. Fats Waller meets Anthony Braxton...a Monkish motif will give way to a pastoral swing episode a la Hank Jones. Rosewoman's melodies are as joyfully convoluted as Parker's."

"...futuristic bebop mutations, gnomish Monk-like meanderings, meditations on African deities. Rosewoman will shake you up!"


"This disc is a treasure of driving, radiant playing and writing."

"...the ingenuity of the compositions...the overall integration of structure and freedom within Rosewoman's tunes gives a resilience that rewards repeated listening. Charles Mingus was pointing in this direction 20 years ago."


"Variously a blues pianist, a ballad singer and a free improviser...Rosewoman has jazz history at her fingertips."

"...she welds broken, tumbling melodic phrases, fiercely chopping full-hand chords, Bud Powell runs, and a constant Afro-Cuban rhythmic undertow into a totally coherent whole -- the first purely jazz playing I've ever heard that meshed with Latin rhythms instead of riding above them."

"Convoluted melodies, wild harmonic adventures, earthy rhythmic vitality, transformations of unpredictable and hectic events into great music. Michele Rosewoman breathes fire into everything she does. She demonstrated all the artillery a pianist for the '90's needs. Every moment in last night's opening set reeked of almost visceral excitement, and Rosewoman seems likely to loom large as jazz pursues its relentless search for new important voices. Don't miss her-she's an event."

"Rosewoman is one of those artists who renews a fan's faith in the transcendent power of jazz...Spiritual search, sense of mystery and ritual intensity motivate Rosewoman's music--music that contributes to the global community by both respecting and moving beyond the values of discrete cultures."

Review of 5/4/07 Quintessence performance at the American Museum of Natural History:
"…The tune (Guapo) had an odd meter and I was struck by how the children busted loose and started dancing --in circles. It was as if earth mother Rosewoman's energy was infused into these children. Miracle was a gorgeous ballad that channeled the love that this world needs in order to heal itself. Rosewoman's piano work on this tune almost had me in tears, it was so compelling… So much musical territory was covered in the forty-minute set, I felt as though I had been on a trip! Truly a metaphysically connecting event. If you have the opportunity to hear Michele Rosewoman and Quintessence play live, do not miss it. The energy is intoxicating."


"Ms. Rosewoman's music--dissonant melodies, brass chorales, chromatic ballads and orchestrated vamps-for brasses, saxophones, and a jazz rhythm section, as the groove shifted from the flow of the Santeria chants to the swing of a jazz band---was jazz that didn't simply use Afro-Cuban rhythms as decoration, but layered melodies and rhythms with equal force and weight."

"New Yor-uba is soulful evidence that Rosewoman is on to something significant. The music was energetic, propulsive and especially noteworthy largely because it did not use either jazz melodies or Cuban rhythms as mere embellishments. Rosewoman's concept fully integrated orchestrated brasses, saxophones, and a jazz back line, with traditional Yoruban chants sung to the heavy rhythmic accompaniment of congas and bata drums, ceremoniously arriving at sumptuous Ellington-like orchestrations..."

"Rosewoman gave a state-of-the-art peformance that is rooted in tradition but searching for new ideas to further this sanctified circle and pay homage to the black spirtual music of two worlds for a joyous energized experience".

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