The Church of the Holy Trinity is a pretty amazing church. It’s a progressive place of worship nestled within the grounds of a major shopping centre; a small piece of serenity right next to 5-story posters hawking the latest fragrance by Chanel. It’s an inclusive place too, famous for opening its doors to the community for music shows and Nuit Blanche, Toronto’s all night art thing. Unlike the Berkeley Church which was transformed into an event venue, the Trinity is still a practicing place of worship, making it feel that much more legitimate. Seeing a show here was on my bucket list. Ah-check.
Kurt Rosenwinkel is a masterful guitarist that broke out on the modern jazz scene in the 90’s. He was plucked up by vibes legend Gary Burton, the dean of Berklee’s music school, to tour while still a student. His ability to fuse all sorts of inspirations into musical stories that are both simple and complex has earned him a place among the top contemporary jazz musicians of today. Playing a solo show at the Holy Trinity was one of the best marriages of artist and venue that I’ve seen in my ongoing list of “best marriage between artist and venue”. Cue the Wedding March.
Playing a rhythmic bass line to keep the heads in the crowd bopping in time while also telling a story with the higher plinky notes is one thing Kurt excels at.
The interesting thing about this show was that Kurt sang and played, which is new to me. I’ve only known him as an instrumentalist par excellence. By sing, I don’t actually mean sing, more like make sounds that accompany what was going on with his guitar. There’s an interesting phenomenon where some jazz artists get so emotionally plugged into what they are doing that they end up tunelessly humming along. It’s almost as if they are reacting to what their other half is doing. Jazz legends Keith Jarrett and Oscar Peterson are both known for this. Kurt’s singing was a little different, it was more targeted and part of the tapestry of the song. Together, it made for a pretty ephemeral soundtrack that was a little otherworldly. The sounds he made comfortably resonated up the big churchy emptiness overhead and just kind of hung out for a bit.
About halfway through, Kurt started dotting his set with more traditional sounding jazz guitar. Let’s call it a modern take on traditional jazz guitar. Playing a rhythmic bass line to keep the heads in the crowd bopping in time while also telling a story with the higher plinky notes is one thing Kurt excels at. Although the singy songs fit well in the hall, it was these more traditional tunes updated with Rosenwinkel flair that the jazz lovers both young and old could all agree on.