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."

"Hallowed" Advance Dance Disques 2019

" This suite... is by turns, tender and driving, simply stated and complex. It frames ancient rituals in a new context. It places the sound of large ensemble modern jazz in a fresh light. "Oru de Oro" treats these bata rhythms as precious gems, presenting them in
luminous and original settings that accentuate their multi-faceted allure and power. (Rosewoman) has created a complete original musical structure that breathes as one with the bata, negotiating its rhythmic transitions, and that is studded with harmonic innovation, well-placed improvisations, drama and even humor. Her music honors the legacies of jazz masters like Duke Ellington,
Charles Mingus and Cecil Taylor as clearly as the bata serves Yoruba deities. Throughout, her distict brand of pianism- highly refined and yet, in spots, often quite daring--shines through.
New Yor-Uba doesn't so much bridge traditions; rather, it reveals
deep and mysterious connections that have always existed."
structure... ---stylistic swagger and spiritual heft."
JAZZIZ / Larry Blumenfeld

"Thirty-five years ago, pianist and composer Michele Rosewoman broke ground on what would become a signature achievement, the Afro-Cuban jazz ensemble New Yor-Uba...
Its mission has been steadfast. On some level it’s never been
clearer than it is on the new album, Hallowed."
structure... ---stylistic swagger and spiritual heft."
NPR / Nate Chinen

"The evolution of New Yor-Uba, pianist Michele Rosewoman’s painstaking synthesis of modern jazz and ancient Afro-Cuban folkloric traditions, has been a journey of slow-motion magnificence... Rosewoman’s abiding faith in these centuries-old rhythms, covertly passed down by word of mouth to safeguard their potency, provides New Yor-Uba with an
idiosyncratic discipline similar to Henry Threadgill’s Zooid or Steve Coleman’s Five Elements. As with those ensembles, listeners are richly rewarded by marinating in the music."
structure... ---stylistic swagger and spiritual heft."

" This isn’t “Latin jazz”; it’s an often stunning synthesis of old and new, assembled by someone who’s spent her life studying this material and making it her own... Atop that constantly fluctuating bed of percussion, a five-piece horn section lays down complex, almost big-band melodiesand stinging, adventurous solos"
structure... ---stylistic swagger and spiritual heft."

"For pianist, composer, educator and arranger Michele Rosewoman, music serves two purposes: to swing as always while engaging listeners in a multicultural experience that stimulates an impassioned connection... The pollinating rhythms of the constant drumming, brass section and Rosewoman’s distinct piano makes “Hallowed” the year’s finest spirited representation of Cuban folklorist music and jazz infused with energetic notes of the African diaspora. “Hallowed” anoints Rosewoman as a griot of Cuban folklore, who carries on the tradition of pianist and composer Randy Weston, who encompassed his music into the spiritual enlightenment of the African diaspora."
structure... ---stylistic swagger and spiritual heft."
Amsterdam News / Ron Scott

"With her epic, wordless, yet worshipful suite “Oru de Oro” she has cracked the code of that ancient text. So it follows that I can think of almost no other musician in recent (or, indeed, past) times who has been able to – in an original contemporary composition – make such masterful use of the sacred bàtá drums.... Miss Rosewoman anchors herself in the ancient tradition with a view to always look forward and what a spectacular way in which to do it indeed... With this album, Hallowed, Miss Rosewoman’s music, quite simply, ascends to the rarefied realm. And yet it has all of the elements that make it earthy and accessible despite being rooted in something as spiritually and philosophically “ancient”.... if we listen to the repertoire on Hallowed we will also be awestruck at the diabolical complexity of its harmonic inventions – the “changes” – which are absolutely breathtaking and come at us fast and furious, sometimes as myriad and rapidly as the works of Charles Mingus and John Coltrane.... the music of “Oru de Oro” is particularly alluring and – with its web of harmonic and rhythmic changes – is especially evocative of the musical canvas of Charles Mingus. Miss Rosewoman, of course, has an acutely singular voice and it shines with its own diaphanous musical canvas illuminated as if by glinting lights rippling with the stunning melodies and – more especially so – with a harmonic patina enriched by the shimmer of her pianism, rippling over the tone-textures of brass and woodwinds... . The constant push and pull between percussion, piano and blown instruments creates a dynamic tension that stretches and relaxes throughout this exquisite repertoire, drawing us in and mesmerising our senses at will... . The recorded sound balances depth and detail with a sense of “live” warmth. Truly an album to die for. "
structure... ---stylistic swagger and spiritual heft."
Latin Jazz Network /Raul deGama

Best Latin Jazz Releases of 2019
"..music that is emotionally compelling and spiritually uplifting.
("Oru de Oro) traverses variations in time, tempo and tonalities as the different
soloists episodically interact with the modulating cadences of the batá drums. The resulting music is sonically unique, conjuring an array of moods, from solemn to joyous, ominous to optimistic...The breadth of Rosewoman’s talent is further evidenced on the two shorter, but no less compelling compositions filling out the album... On the final track, “Alabanza (Praise)”,the jazz ensemble comes into sharper focus demonstrating Rosewoman’s adventurous melodic and harmonic acuity."
structure... ---stylistic swagger and spiritual heft."
New York Jazz Report / Russ Musto

Best Jazz Releases of 2019
"Pianist Michele Rosewoman has been delving into Afro-Cuban music for more than 30 years, and her latest venture is her deepest dive yet: a 14-piece big band, heavy on horns and percussion but not so heavy they overwhelm the sparkling melodies,
blooming horn harmonies, or undulating rhythms".
structure... ---stylistic swagger and spiritual heft."
Slate Magazine

" New Yor-Uba sprung from Rosewoman’s imagination, her immersion in Afro-Cuban tradition and her impressive technique as a pianist... Rosewoman has scripted an exciting new chapter of this story... If there is a more satisfying group around—one with as compelling a blend of ancient and new, of earthiness and urbanity, of ritual music and jazz-based improvisation—please tell me about them." structure... ---stylistic swagger and spiritual heft."
Larry Blumenfeld Blu Notes

"New Yor-Uba, 30 Years!" Advance Dance Disques 2013

"...two big cultural streams flowing simultaneously... cultural multiplicity in sound taken to a reasonable extreme, where a song can still be allowed to sound logical and beautiful...It all felt ancient and experimental at the same time, and capacious enough to include more and more."
Ben Ratliff, The New York TImes

"Dazzling tracks, startling for its balance of unfettered improvisation and undiluted Cuban folklore within a complex and often grand structure... ---stylistic swagger and spiritual heft."
Larry Blumenfeld, The Wall Street Journal

"The best Latin jazz project in recent memory is this double-disc celebrating the 30th anniversary of
pianist-vocalist Rosewoman's esoteric yet quintessentially NYC ensemble. Delightful melody, spine-tingling abstractions and a sagae sense of groove argue for Rosewoman's place among the music's brightest composer-arrangers".
Jazz Times

"...One word for you-genius! That CD is amazing! I don't know when was the last time I heard a cd that moved me and touched me in this way. The writing is so personal, imaginative, and cliche' free as you're playing always is. The musicians seem to dig the music and interpret the music so well. The arranging is brilliant and the engineer did a great job of recording and mixing it. I've been a big fan and promoter of your writing and playing and this is the total package, not to mention the lyrics and vocal arrangements. I will continue to sing your praises...Love you, Donald."
Legendary pianist Donald Brown

"Absolutely one of the most exceptional records of 2013 is pianist-composer Michele Rosewoman's 30th Anniversary New Yor-Uba release."
Willard Jenkins, The Independent Ear

"Pianist Rosewoman has created the masterpiece she's envisioned for 30 years, an extended, loving and fully informed evocation of the Santeria orishas, bata drums prominent with her committed jazz octet and a couple of guests. Two discs is a lot of music to absorb, and doubly rewarding"
Howard Mandel, Jazz Journalists Association Publication

"Rosewoman's presence on piano continues to shine as she blends the rhythmic angularites of Thelonious Monk with the jolting harmonic suspense of Jaki Byard and Don Pullen...from gentle melodyand hypnotic bata rhythms to...intriguing, loping blues figure and sumptuous harmonies, the music transports as well as transcends in ways, opening various gateways for pleasurable listening without the need to be fully immersed in Afro-Cuban folklore...mesmerizing choral work and serrated funk...the compositions have the potential of becoming new modern jazz standards.
One hopes that a follow-up to this transfixing set will come sooner than later.".
John Murph, Downbeat Magazine ****1/2

"Rosewoman places vocal simplicity on par with instrumental complexity without sacrificing either... These two traditions, however, are only the starting point for Rosewoman, whose fresh compositions send them hurtling into the future. With New Yor-Uba, Rosewoman moves AfroCuban music another step forward"
New York City Jazz Report

"On most pieces, Rosewoman wraps her compositions around Yoruban or Dahomeyan devotional chants and drum patterns. They give the music a spiritual resonance across centuries and continents. Rosewoman treats those materials with care ďż˝ the sung prayers appear in the prescribed order, and have their own integrity within the band's performance. Michele Rosewoman is mindful of the fact that the traditions she bridges have different goals... Rosewoman and her very aware musicians layer jazz phrasing and harmony over those ancient rhythms, and do justice to both traditions. It's like inventing Afro-Cuban jazz and sacred concerts all over again.
Kevin Whitehead, NPR Fresh Air

"Though it took her 30 years to document her groundbreaking New Yor-Uba band on record, it was worth the wait. Released in September, the exuberant �30 Years: A Musical Celebration of Cuba in America� is one of the standout albums of 2013...� the album stands as a true Latin jazz milestone � a special gift from an artist determined to bring two great cultures together. Feliz Navidad, indeed.." -Washington Post

"Rosewoman plays lush piano; congas often serve as counterpoints to the horns and there are many memorable interactions between the vocalists and other musicians. What is remarkable about the set is the lush, voluptuous layering of sounds, as if one were interred in a gilded mansion of sound. " Allaboutjazz

"The clarity of the devotional intent, well-crafted arrangements, and the superior musicianship all around make A Musical Celebration of Cuba in America a very special recording. Particularly bright moments include Rosewoman�s energetic and imaginative piano solo on Dance For Agayu, her eccentrically flowing piano solo and the ensuing percussion workout on Por Ahora y Para Siempre, the vocal harmonies that open Old Calabar, another gorgeous Rosewoman solo on In Praise of Spiritual Guides, Freddie Hendrix�s tasty trumpet solo on Perdon, and the fractured horn charts on Where Water Meets Sky. I�m sure you�ll find many more of your own over the course of two discs of heart-stirringly beautiful music. Fantastico! "Stewart Kremsky

"Ouch, it�s time once again to discover one of those records that so good it hurts... this is about killer playing that goes down so smoothly and well interwoven that you just have to gasp for air. This double cd, stocked with playing by some of New York�s finest jazzbos, qualifies as a landmark recording that will continue to tower no matter how much passes behind it. A must for Afro-Cuban jazz fans, this is a set they will not want to be without. Get on board."
Midwest Records

"...the first recording in 30 years from this astonishing Latin-Jazz �big band� of sorts, a fantastic collective that shuffles together with masterful ingenuity Rosewoman�s expertise in both modern jazz and Cuban folkloric music... With a band this versatile, the options are myriad, and Rosewoman doesn�t ignore any of them in 14 tracks spread across two generous and kaleidoscopic compact discs. Almost all the material was composed and arranged by the leader (with traditional materials throughout), and many tracks weave the traditional and the modern brilliantly.. Michele Rosewoman refuses to see any boundaries that can contain Afro-Cuban music and its rich fusion with jazz.Pop Matters

"...a joyous, supremely listenable two-disc set. It�s a large band but the feeling is very friendly and almost intimate, like a family, perhaps because Rosewoman�s lyrical piano is front and center throughout...Really fine performances from all." Stanford Radio


"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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