Rolf Sturm
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Rolf Sturm

New York City, NY | Established. Jan 01, 2000 | INDIE

New York City, NY | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2000
Solo Jazz Acoustic





ROLF STURM/Young: Sturm is one of those heaviest cats you’ve heard but never heard of, he’s appeared on such a diverse array of albums that it would be hard to have missed him but unless you’re a real guitar head, the name might be new to you, even at this stage of his career. Here we find him doing his six string guitar thing solo on a set where he pays tribute to Youngs Neil and Victor (just because, ok?) showing how he’s such a master of the form that you better get to know him by name. One of those super lovely solo albums that leaves a distinct footprint all it’s own, acoustic guitar fans have to raise him to the pantheon of the greats. No wonder you dug all those albums he was lurking in the background on. It might be a sweet, graceful album but that doesn’t diminish it’s heat quota one iota. Hot stuff. - Midwest Record (4/27/16) by Chris Spector

"Rolf Sturm: Young"

Guitarist Rolf Sturm has found himself on two recent and exceptional recordings: Roswell Rudd and Heather Masse's August Love Song (Red House, 2016) and Jenna Mammina & Rolf Strum's Spark. He is a guitarist of expansive facility and a sense of humor, to boot. Take his present Young as an example. The release began conceptual life as a collection of Victor Young compositions. You know...the guy who wrote "When I Fall in Love," Moonlight Serenade," "Love Letters," My Foolish Heart," "Stella by Starlight," and "I Don't Stand a Ghost of a Change with You." Yes, that guy. Well, Sturm decided to address several of these, but when he saw the album art, could not resist throwing in some Neil Young compositions too. Victor Young and Neil Young...that makes of strange bedfellows indeed!

So interspersed among these pre-1950 Great-American- Songbook standards, mostly show tunes, are four Neil Young classics. The old a new meld into an informed continuum serving to remind us that all music as a thread passing through civilization connecting all time. Sturm studied with John Abercrombie, whose influence donated an abstraction to Sturm's style, which is as informed by gypsy jazz as it is by the New Orleans—Kansas City— Chicago triumvirate. "My Foolish Heart," Stella by Starlight," pair oddly well with "Pocahontas" (from Rust Never Sleeps (Reprise, 1979). An assertive, muscular "Cowgirl in the Sand" rubs against a chaste and introspective "Ghost of a Chance" offering a contrast as impressive as an abstract "Tell Me Why" enhances a dark and rich "Golden Earrings." Sturm successfully navigates two disparate composers to make a cogent whole. Good Show. - All About Jazz April 25, 2016 by C. Michael Bailey

""Young" Rolf Sturm"

Despite their last name, Victor and Neil Young have little in common musically but this solo release from acoustic guitarist Rolf Sturm changes that. Composer/ arranger Victor Young helped to define a time when movie music was written with an ear toward generating hit records from jazz bands, popular musicians and vocalists. His tunes are harmonically interesting yet invite lyrics. Standards like “Stella by Starlight” and “My Foolish Heart” have provided inspiration to jazz musicians for generations with good reason. Guitarist/ singer/songwriter Neil Young represents the antithesis of this approach with a 50-year career of country- inspired songs that have become rock/folk anthems. Victor Young’s catalogue is custom made for Sturm’s beautiful touch, harmonic appreciation and musical acumen but Sturm also unexpectedly finds a similar essence in Neil Young’s compositions.
Sturm impresses with how he can take Victor Young songs from as early as 1918 that have been performed to death and make them his own. Opener “Sweet Sue, Just You” is delicately portrayed yet retains hints of Django Reinhardt’s version while closer “Golden Earrings” preserves subtle shades of its original mysterious Gypsy ambiance. “A Weaver of Dreams” is dexterously executed with fragile chords, spot-on harmonics and crisp clean lines and “I Don’t Stand a Ghost of a Chance” is made over through creative syncopation within a gentle yet harmonically powerful approach. The poignant ballad “When I Fall in Love” is expanded through unhurried intimate examination and the tantalizing romance in “Love Letters” is tastefully deconstructed—true artistry.
Sturm impressively recasts the four Neil Young songs that are judiciously sprinkled throughout the program: the whine of “Cowgirl in the Sand” is thankfully tempered with warm chords; “One of These Days” has its syrupy wistfulness downplayed by highlighting its country roots; “Pocahontas” receives an elegantly complex facelift; and “Tell Me Why” has its happy/sad message softened. Young will not disappoint fans who have come to expect the inventive nylon string stylings for which Sturm is known.
- by Elliott Simon - The New York City Jazz record (April 2016)

"Sturm channels two Youngs in new album"

SUNBURY — Guitar virtuoso Rolf Sturm’s 16th music CD combines the old and the new in an elegant collection called Young, featuring — what else — classic tunes by Victor Young, and contemporary compositions by Neil Young.

“About the theme. I had realized that there were a number of Victor Young tunes in my repertoire,” explained Strum, who grew up in Lewisburg, but now lives near New York City. “A few years ago, I started researching his compositions. It turns out that he was a very prolific composer so I considered making a recording of just his material. And during this process, I thought it would be funny and sort of ironic to call the recording ‘Young’ and have a picture on the front cover of me with my grey beard. But once the front cover was created I thought, ‘If I saw this cover with the title Young, I’d think Neil Young.’ I immediately went back and recorded four Neil Young tunes and wove them into the recording.”

The Victor Young tunes on the recording that are most well known are “When I Fall in Love,” “My Foolish Heart” and “Stella by Starlight.” Sturm tends to gravitate towards tunes that have an interesting harmonic rhythm; songs whose chord progressions flow nicely and go to interesting places, as opposed to songs that focus primarily on the melody over top of a simple repeating chord progression.

Sturm used the same criteria for the Neil Young tunes.

“I watched footage from various solo Neil Young concerts on the internet and almost immediately found the four that I decided on,” he said. “These are tunes that I really like so it was pretty easy to come up with my own versions of them for this recording.”

Sturm said he’s a Neil Young fan.

“I know that there are folks who have a hard time with his voice or his guitar playing, but there is something so honest and heart felt about his music,” he said. “I am drawn to musicians who play from their heart and not just from their head. Of course, I appreciate musicians who have achieved virtuosic capabilities, but I also appreciate musicians who have lived life and have something to say.”

Sturm released the CD on his own label, Water Street, named after the Lewisburg Street on which he grew up.

He is booked to play in Lewisburg on August 4th at the Ridgecrest Centennial celebration.

“I may get to do another performance at the Elias Center for the Performing Arts in Mifflinburg,” he added.

- by Rick Dandes - The Daily Item Feb. 25, 2016

"Very Sweet Album"

"I've just been listening to "Young", and it's lovely. Such nice touch, very warm interpretations and yes, who'da thought Vincent and Neil are related like this. My favors in first listen are Cowgirl in the Sand and When I Fall in Love. Thanks for splendid music. I'll talk it up as I get opportunities." - Howard Mandel "Jazz Journalist's Association" Feb. 2016

"Rolf Sturm "Balance" 2010 CD"

"The nylon-string acoustic guitar, pure or amplified, is an instrument capable of capturing the essence of the guitar. And although there are many smooth jazz artists who utilize the soft and pliant sounds of the instrument, not since the likes of Charlie Byrd, Laurindo Almeda, Bola Sete, Eddie Duran, and Gene Bertoncini has the classic guitar made such a successful cross over into jazz.
Django, of course, had his own special gypsy sound; however, it was not classical in its phrasing and textures. Whether classical works or jazz tunes are played with classical technique is perhaps not the issue. What is at issue is a feel, a sensibility for jazz and its phrasing, rhythms, manifested in its most elemental sound and sense.
Enter Rolf Sturm and his wonderful ability to “balance” classical technique with jazz sensibilities. Thus this CD, so aptly named BALANCE, is a locus classicus in the evolving adaptations of pure, classical guitaristics for jazz purposes - and for the reciprocal enrichments of jazz infusions into classical guitar technique.
The songs Sturm strums are a mix of standards, bossa-nova, and playful, lighter fare - again a fine balance. The standards, i.e. ”Beautiful Love”, “Alone Together”, “Stella by Starlight”, and “Out Of Nowhere” show a supreme sense of keenly felt, inner-interpretation of the songs, realizing all of their lovely and loving potential as melody. Sturm’s voicings bring new life into these old, and in their way classic tunes. “Alone Together” takes on even more symbolic meaning whereby Sturm is alone with his guitar in both the real and ideal sense.
“Black Orpheus” is heard in more than the usual movement and although continuing in a five-minute running time is all too brief, given the ever deep and thick invitations of the song. This is another aspect of Sturm’s sense of balance in that most of the cuts are more than four minutes long, some, as in the case of “A Foul Lute Vibe” (a wonderfully plangent, subdued yet at times frisky flamenco rendering), extend to seven minutes, while “Straight Belly Salt” stop at the threshold of four minutes. Taken together, the songs, arrangements, and interpretations give testimony to defining balance as freedom under girded with discipline.
The lute and the guitar have a long relationship with the duende (the soulful muse as sought after in particular by Spanish guitarists). BALANCE is hard and fast evidence that the duende lives in the very soul of the guitar and in its blessed legacy of modern soul mates such as Rolf Sturm."
Review by Bob Gish “Jazz Inside Magazine” December 2010 issue, page 46 - Jazz Inside Magazine

"Shawangunk Press Quotes From Howard Mandel, Tony Trischka, All About Jazz,, Jazz Improv, etc..."

“...Shawangunk is a hugely satisfying blend of heartfelt impulses and technical expertise...a distinct and compelling acoustic voice...Shawangunk is the pure expression of his nylon-strung artistry... Rolf has a sturdy melodic sense, imbued with a sense of inevitability...Rolf is also a master of scrumptious chord motion...In addition, Rolf has chops to burn. But his technique never overpowers the music. It just acts in its service.”
TONY TRISCHKA (Banjo Legend)

“...Rolf Sturm’s Shawangunk is a deft chordal/melodic encounter that reveals its spirit like a brilliant Hudson Valley morn... featuring the pure-as-mountain-snow sound of his nylon strings...his crystalline chord voicings intermesh with enchanting melodies.
(All About Jazz-New York)

“ ...very pretty "recital," that lets (Rolf) demonstrate (his) considerable range; nicely played, careful, calm, commanding virtuosity...”
(Jazz Critic-Down Beat, Jazz Times, Swing Journal, the Wire, and president of Jazz Journalists Association)

“...Rolf is subtle and deft on the guitar...He has a way to touch your senses with his music. It is the unique combination of improvising and moody arrangements, which are masterful. It is beyond smooth, which is the thing that gives it the perfect edge.

“...beautiful sound...Sturm takes more than one minute to introduce the melody of “Days Of Wine And Roses”, and the melody’s appearance is akin to Orson Wells’ appearance in The Third Man--you have waited for it, and are not at all disappointed... Although guitar players in particular will appreciate this CD, all instrumentalists should listen to see how a musician can sustain a lengthy solo performance.”
(Jazz Improv Magazine) - Various

"Six String Magicians"

(FOUR STARS) Veteran guitarist and educator Rolf Sturm steps away from the band that he co-leads with his bassist brother and delivers 10 solo acoustic performances that resonate with verve. Balance (Water Street Music 124; 50:59 ****) is divided between jazz standards like “Stella By Starlight” and “Out Of Nowhere” and an equal number of originals that take whimsical anagrams as their titles (“Alone Together” becomes “To Get Her Alone”, for example). Sturm’s style encompasses elements of classical, American roots music and flamenco, and he mixes them so seamlessly and constantly that they become their own anagram. Regardless of his approach, each piece is suffused with tremendous energy and movement. - DownBeat Magazine (Feb. 2011 Issue)

"Rolf Sturm "Balance", 2010"

"Rolf Sturm’s "Balance" is truly a remarkable recording, showcasing ten masterful solo acoustic guitar performances. Five of the pieces are Jazz standards and the other five are musical anagrams of those standards. Sturm is an astounding fingerstyle player effortlessly alternating between swinging jazz chords and beautifully executed single note lines. His improvisational abilities are both impressive and expressive. The son of teachers Sturm studied music at Berklee, while congruently pursuing a degree in liberal arts. He also studied with Joe Pass, Bill Frisell, and John Abercrombie. Throughout "Balance" one hears echoes of the late Joe Pass in Sturm’s tuneful virtuosity. His readings of "Stella by Starlight" and "Black Orpheus" are flawless. Furthermore, the musical anagrams are clever derivatives of the originals and take on a new and refreshing musical identity all their own. Sturm is a prodigious talent and is an unparalleled virtuoso of the nylon stringed guitar. "Balance" is highly recommended and should be required listening for all fans of contemporary music." © James Scott "Minor 7th Webzine" - Minor 7th Webzine January/February 2011 issue "Short Takes"

"Press Quotes From Bill Milkowski, Musician Magazine, Cadence Magazine, etc..."

“...guitarist Rolf Sturm kicked out the jams...jaw-dropping instrumental virtuosity...” TIMESUNION.COM

"...unparalleled guitar-driven music...reaches further than probably anything you've heard from six strings prior to now."

“ that is sublimely sensitive, while still maintaining an undercurrent of mystery with an improvisational edge...A truly expressive guitarist...”
(writer Downbeat & Jazziz)

“...guitarist Rolf Sturm...pushed around the harmony and made everything gel. In doing so, he works toward the greater good and creates his voice.”

“Where no guitar has gone before... Rolf Sturm”

“First-class penmanship, which doesn’t talk down to the listener, guarantees that you won’t get bored listening to thess tunes. What a treat!”
(writer JazzTimes, Jazziz, Wire)

“...skilled...musical...eclectic...unique...guitarist Rolf Sturm”

“In the new band, Rolf's skill with weepy blues, angular jazz and plaintive country expanded their musical horizons and acted as the ideal interactive springboard for Tony's (Trischka) banjo.”
(music critic - Various

"Tonight's Performer Can Pick His Genre June 2007"

"[Rolf Sturm is] of the best solo acoustic and electric guitarists in the business, an in-demand sideman, comfortable in almost any style, and much admired by established artists of all genres."
RICK DANDES (The Daily Item) June 07 - Daily Item

"Featured Artist: Rolf Sturm 2006"

The Shawangunk is a lovely mountain in New York, where the crystal clear streams sparkle in the sunlight and cobalt skies are endless. You can stand at the edge of smooth gleaming white cliffs and watch as water falls into the ravine below. Rolf Sturm’s new acoustic solo recording of the same name also has the same ambiance.

Rolf Sturm has had numerous recordings, and has performed and/or toured with banjo pioneer Tony Trischka, drummer Billy Martin, country singer Eddy Arnold, the Argentinean tango group New York-Buenos Aires Connection, the Grateful Dead big band Illuminati, klezmer clarinetist Giora Feidman, and the Walter Thompson Orchestra. He also leads his own New York City area bands Feed The Meter and Just Cause.

Rolf Sturm’s chords dance as if suspended; his improvisation is reminiscent of Lenny Breau’s 1975 CD Cabin Fever . Rolf is subtle and deft on the guitar, and like the mountain, his range is wide, with a sudden burst of rock edge. He kicks into gear for track 5, the chords are lively and folksy with an eclectic quality.

On this CD, he smoothly moves through eighteen original compositions, proving his talent as both composer and a musician. He has a way to touch your senses with his music. It is the unique combination of improvising and moody arrangements, which are masterful. It is beyond smooth, which is the thing that gives it the perfect edge.

Sit back, close your eyes and enjoy the view.

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Artist's Website:

Reviewed by: Viki Ackland -

"Rolf Sturm: Shawangunk 2006"

Rolf Sturm's Shawangunk is a deft chordal/melodic encounter that reveals its spirit like a brilliant Hudson Valley morn.

Whether it is the Dead's "Ripple", played at a relaxed leisurely pace, an intriguingly swinging version of Herbie Hancock's classic "Watermelon Man", or personal compositions that speak of people, places and events, Rolf Sturm strums and picks with just the right touch. Comfortable in multiple milieus, in addition to fronting his own modern country group, Sturm has played with the Knitting Factory/Tzadik crew and been part of klezmer, tango and bluegrass projects.

For Shawangunk, he hopped on the thruway and headed north to the Catskills for some "country" re-inspiration to present a varied hour of new takes on well-known tunes and sweet, fresh material, all featuring the pure-as-mountain-snow sound of his nylon strings. "Egberto" pays tribute to Brazilian instrumentalist Egberto Gismonti with a pretty melody and the Latin-tinged "O Galo" does the same for pianist Michel Camilo, while guitarist Jim Hall's "Down From Antigua" is recast as "Down From the Hallway", with a breezy picked melody. Sturm's personal reflections like the haltingly beautiful "Kant Strasse", innocently lovely "Green Arches" and touchingly composed "Oh Father", "Margie", "Alexander" and "Earl Jean" are standouts where his crystalline chord voicings intermesh with enchanting melodies.

Tracks: Ripple; Days Of Wine And Roses; Green Arches; P.S. Prudence; Watermelon Man; Margie; Alexander; Winter Solstice; O Galo; Egberto; Earl Jean; Oh Father; Nauset Bay; D's Dance; Sing Song; Down From The Hallway; Kant Strasse; Royal Sushi. - All About Jazz-New York By Elliott Simon

"Guitarist Is Hard Musician To Classify "Balance" 2010"

“Excellent new CD... a virtuoso guitarist... an eclectic mix of classic tunes and Sturm originals are impeccably performed.”
The Daily Item Pennsylvania, Sept. 23, 2010 - Daily Item

"New York Art Party: Celebrating Roswell Rudd"

"...superb work by guitarist Rolf Sturm" - JazzTimes Jan./Feb. 2018


The Sturm Brothers – Back Home (Water Street Music WSM-111)
Feed The Meter – Violation (Water Street Music WSM-112)
Rolf Sturm – Solo Acoustic (Water Street Music WSM-113)
Feed The Meter – Its About Time (Water Street Music WSM-114)
Just Cause – Standards (Water Street Music WSM-115)
Rolf Sturm/Jody Espina – One World (Water Street Music WSM-116)
Rob Henke/Rolf Sturm – Evening Pawn (Water Street Music WSM-117)
Rolf Sturm – Shawangunk (Water Street Music WSM-118)
Tricycle – Tricycle (Water Street Music WSM-120)
Kloomp! – A Tale Of Trevor Nor (Water Street Music WSM-121)
All Terrain Band – Strangled By The Apple (Water Street Music WSM-122)
4 Five VI – 3 Film Scores By Rolf Sturm (Water Street Music WSM-123)
Rolf Sturm – Balance (Water Street Music WSM-124)
Jenna Mammina and Rolf Sturm – Spark (Water Street Music WSM – 125)
Rolf Sturm – Young (Water Street Music WSM – 126)
Jenna Mammina and Rolf Sturm – Begin To Dance 
(Water Street Music WSM – 127)
Roswell Rudd/Heather Masse – August Love Song 
(Red House Records RHR CD 289)
Roswell Rudd – Trombone For Lovers 
(Sunny Side Communications SSC 1369)
Tomas Ulrich’s Cargo Cult – If You Should Go 
(Cadence Jazz Records CJR 1214)
Tomas Ulrich’s Cargo Cult – Cargo Cult (CIMP #375)
Tomas Ulrich’s Cargo Cult – Lonely House (covers) (CIMP #380)
Tomas Ulrich’s Cargo Cult – Discovers (CIMP #385)
What I Say – The Electric Miles Project (Independent Release)
Washington Street Players – The Bride (M-Cons East No. 1)
Rob Henke Group – White Paws (Cathexis 93-0007-2)
Rob Henke Group – Footnotes (Twin Rivers records TR-225)
Tony Trischka – New Deal (Rounder Records 82161 0493-2)
Joe Gallant and Illuminati – Code Of The West (Scratchy Records)
Joe Gallant and Illuminati – The Blues For Allah Project 
(Knitting Factory Works KFW-188)
Joe Gallant and Illuminati – Live Vol. 1 (Relix Records RRCD2085)
Joe Gallant and Illuminati – Live Vol. 2 (Relix Records RRCD2092)
Joe Gallant and Illuminati – Terrapin (Which Records WHI5656)
Joe Gallant and Illuminati – Shadowhead (Black Mirror Prod. BMP001)
Various – Dead Delites Vol. 3 (Relix Records RRCD2097)
Various – Stolen Roses Grateful Dead Rec. (Arista 4073-CD)
Walter Thompson Orchestra – The Colonel 
(Nine Winds Records NWCD0205)
Walter Thompson Orchestra – PEXO (Nine Winds Records NWCD0234)
Walter Thompson Orchestra with Anthony Braxton – Soundpainting (Independent Release)
Various – John Zorn’s Cobra (Knitting Factory Works KFW-124)
Frank London – The Debt (Tzadik TZ-7507)
Various – The Jazz Voice (Knitting Factory Works KFW-212)
Various – New York Downtown, Jazz & Other Sounds 
(Knitting Factory Works KFW-200)
Nanette Natal – I Must Be Dreaming (Benyo Music BY33-41)
Nanette Natal – Sweet Summer Blue (Benyo Music BY3342)
Evan Mazunik – Ribs (Snapback Records)
Lisa Sokolov – Lazy Afternoon (Laughing Horse Records LHR1008)
Mila Drumke – Hip To Hip (Little Pro Records LPR-03)
Didrik Ingvaldsen – History & Movement (Da-Da Records Da-Da 4CD)
Bob Magnuson/Tom DeSteno – In The Sunlight 
(Cadence Jazz Records CJR-1137)
The Joe Carson Big Band – Roar Of Promise (NJBBDS-101)
Ellen Christi Quartet – Vision: Live from the 2002 Vision Festival (Thirsty Ear 57131)
Various (ATB) – Reaction Vol. 4 (Reaction CD RCD 104-2)
ATB – Sex, Drugs, And Democracy(sound track)
(Red Hat Productions Ind. Release)
Bob Hovey – Higdon Cafeteria New Music Series Vol. 1 (Ind. Release)
The Protruders – A Recipe For The Body & Soul (Ind. Release)
Choir Of The Brooklyn Oratory – Glad Tidings 
(Flaming Heart Productions 1944-2)
Choir Of The Brooklyn Oratory – Gaudete 
(Oratory Music Productions 1595-2)



Guitarist Rolf Sturm has performed with and/or appeared on CDs with Tony Trischka, Archie Shepp, Loudon Wainwright, Anthony Braxton, David Johansen, Roswell Rudd, Billy Martin, Bob Mintzer, Glen Velez, Maggie Roche, Jorma Kaukonen, Dave Douglas, John Medeski, Ike Willis, Eddy Arnold, Heather Masse, Catherine Russell, Pat Boone, Giora Feidman, and members of the Grateful Dead. He has an active duo with singer Jenna Mammina and is a member of "Tomas Ulrich's Cargo Cult", the silent movie/live music band: "4FiveVI" and he co-leads the trio "Tricycle". Rolf is also a member of the "Strike Anywhere Performance Ensemble" and the "Walter Thompson Orchestra".

Rolf has toured the United States, Germany, France, Belgium, Sweden, Austria, Hungary, Canada, and the UK, performing at dozens of jazz, jam band/rock, folk, and blues festivals (including the World Expo 2000 in Hanover, Germany). He has performed at Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. and on soundtracks for both film and television. His music has been featured on National Public Radios All Songs Considered and his solo guitar recording, "Balance", was awarded 4 stars in DownBeat magazine. 

Band Members