WBGO Radar

Jonathan Kreisberg: "Wave Upon Wave"

guitarist jonathan kreisberg's wave upon wave

Guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg wants people to understand why music exists, and why folks like him feel called to play it.

“It’s about heart and soul, and making people feel something that gives them an appreciation in their lives,” he says. “It’s about humility.”

Being part of this bigger story is the story behind Kreisberg’s new album, Wave Upon Wave, with his working quartet of Will Vinson on saxophones, Rick Rosato on bass and Colin Stranahan on drums, joined by Kevin Hays on piano.

The album’s cohesiveness makes it stand out from the crowd. Kreisberg’s six original compositions were not conceived at once, but grew out of the band’s experiences together.

“That sense of humility became the guiding force of the music, and it also transforms into practice, how we are on the road,” he says. “How do we play, how do we educate? The schools give young musicians all of this information, but we try to give them something more.”

The cascading title track describes the way all art, especially music, comes through the careful consolidation of new ideas, building on each wave of accomplishment that came before.

“A single wave on the shore is connected to the deepest points of the ocean, just like a human being is connected to ancestors who fought to survive,” says Kreisberg.

The ones who helped Kreisberg find his way in music include guitar heroes like Pat Metheny, John Scofield and Alan Holdsworth, but also saxophonist John Coltrane, pianist Keith Jarrett and Johann Sebastian Bach.

“Music is like a mountain – there’s many at the bottom, and just a few at the top,” he says. “These guys are all highly aware of their tradition, and use it to bring something new.”

What Kreisberg and his band bring forward in their music is a sense of connection.

“I love it when a kid, or an older person, comes up and says they really loved a show,” he says.

The simple ways music speaks to us are embodied for Kreisberg in one of the album’s two jazz standards, Horace Silver’s “Peace,” which he recorded just weeks before the hard bop pianist’s passing in June.

“The harmonies are perfect, and the tune speaks to me now in ways that are different from when I was younger,” he says.

Kreisberg consciously chooses to keep his own compositions and solos within the reach of the human ear and heart.

“It’s easy to fill a tune with chops and obscure ideas,” he says. “Not being overly intellectual, and truly connecting with an audience, is harder.”

Kreisberg and his companions connect, and do much more, with Wave Upon Wave. They celebrate the album’s release Nov. 11 at New York’s Jazz Standard.

The CD of Wave Upon Wave, which includes a "secret" bonus track, is available for worldwide delivery through jonathankreisberg.com, and downloads will be available for preorder through iTunes Nov. 6.


   - Tim Wilkins, WBGO digital content producer

The audio for this Radar is no longer available. To preview and purchase, visit jonathankreisberg.com, iTunes and Amazon.

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