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“Rolf 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.”, writes James Scott from his Minor 7th Webzine review of Rolf’s solo CD: “Balance”.  “..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.”

Rolf’s guitar playing has also earned the praise of Joe Pass, Jim Hall, John Abercrombie, and Bill Frisell. He appears on over 60 CDs including recordings that feature Tony Trischka, Loudon Wainwright, Anthony Braxton, David Johansen, John Medeski, Billy Martin, Glen Velez, Maggie Roche, Jorma Kaukonen, Roswell Rudd, Dave Douglas, Ike Willis, Eddy Arnold, Pablo Aslan, Giora Feidman, and members of the Grateful Dead. He has a duo with singer Jenna Mammina. He is a member of “Tomas Ulrich’s Cargo Cult” and he co-leads the NYC 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, Italy, Belgium, Sweden, Austria, Hungary, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Canada, and the UK, performing at dozens of jazz, jam band/rock, folk, and blues festivals (including the World Expo 2000 in Hanover, Germany, the JVC Jazz Festival, the Boston Folk Festival, the Syracuse Jazz Festival, Ripplefest, Music On The Mountain Festival, and the Toronto Jazz Festival.). He has performed at Lincoln Center, and Town Hall in NYC, and at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. He has appeared on soundtracks for both film and television and his music has been featured on National Public Radio’s All Songs Considered. His solo guitar recording, “Balance”, was awarded 4 stars in DownBeat magazine.

Rolf graduated from Ithaca College, with a BFA in Jazz Guitar. He has studied with John Abercrombie, Jim Hall, Harry Leahey, Bill Frisell, and Joe Pass. He has developed a unique method for learning music theory on the neck of the guitar entitled, “The Major Method”.

On Water Street Music
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 & Rolf Sturm – Spark (Water Street Music WSM-125)
Rolf Sturm – Young (Water Street Music WSM-126)

Other Recordings
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 & Illuminati – Code Of The West (Scratchy Records)
Joe Gallant & Illuminati – The Blues For Allah Project (Knitting Factory Works KFW-188)
Joe Gallant & Illuminati – Live Vol. 1 (Relix Records RRCD2085)
Joe Gallant & Illuminati – Live Vol. 2 (Relix Records RRCD2092)
Joe Gallant & Illuminati – Terrapin (Which Records WHI5656)
Joe Gallant & 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)

Rolf Sturm
Solo Acoustic Recordings

Rolf Sturm

CD Baby
The “Young” CD was originally conceived as an all Victor Young CD. I thought that calling it “Young” would be funny and ironic with me and my grey beard on the cover. But once the cover design came together (a picture that includes the Cervantes guitar) I thought, “If I saw this cover on a CD entitled “Young”, I’d probably think Neil Young”. So, I chose four Neil Young songs to record and included them in the mix.
There are some fun, subtle, music/lyric connections on the recording. Neil Young’s “One of These Days… I’m going to sit right down and write you a letter.” ends on the same note that the following Victor Young track, “Love Letters…straight from the heart”, begins with. Of course, with no lyrics being sung on this recording, this fact may get lost on those not in the know.
Rolf Sturm

CD Baby
(FOUR STARS) “Sturm’s style encompasses elements of classical, American roots music and flamenco…suffused with tremendous energy and movement.”  – “Six String Magicians” DOWN BEAT MAGAZINE (Feb. 2011)

“Excellent new CD… a virtuoso guitarist… an eclectic mix of classic tunes and Sturm originals are impeccably performed.”  


Rolf Sturm “Balance”, 2010 Minor 7th Webzine January/February 2011 issue “Short Takes” “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”

Six String Magicians
DownBeat Magazine (Feb. 2011 Issue)
(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.

Rolf Sturm “Balance” 2010 CD
Jazz Inside Magazine” December 2010 issue
“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

Guitarist Is Hard Musician To Classify “Balance” 2010
The Daily Item Pennsylvania, Sept. 23, 2010
“Excellent new CD… a virtuoso guitarist… an eclectic mix of classic tunes and Sturm originals are impeccably performed.” Review by Rick Dandes

Rolf Sturm
CD Baby
“(guitarist Rolf Sturm is)…a distinct and compelling acoustic voice. …Rolf is also a master of scrumptious chord motion… Shawangunk is the pure expression of his nylon-strung artistry.” 


All About Jazz-New York CD Review
By Elliott Simon

Crystal-clear guitar is center stage on this release that feature experienced craftsmen artfully exposing the country and classical feel inherent in nylon strings. 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.

Personnel: Rolf Sturm: guitar.


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.

Record Label Website: http://www.waterstreetmusic.org
Artist’s Website: http://www.rolfsturm.org

Reviewed by: Viki Ackland


I know that this tune has been overplayed in “Dead” circles, but of the few shows that I went to this tune still resonates with me.

I’ve messed around with this tune for awhile… so here is another version.

In Lewisburg, the last 2 blocks of St. Lewis St. were tree lined and downhill, ending at the river. At the bottom, you have to turn left onto Water St. (straight ahead was the river, there was no street to the right). So we would get a spotter on Front St to check for cars, and then try to coast from Second St, down past Front St and make the left onto Water St without putting our feet on the bicycle pedals to slow down (few if any ever accomplished this). But the memory of the exhilaration, flying down under the canopy of trees, is what inspired this tune.

Obviously, my follow up to “Dear Prudence”… not that it needed one!

Herbie’s tune is just a fun romp and I figured that I should include a tune or two where I used a flat pick.

This is for my mother. I wrote it recently when she was going through her second bout with cancer and things weren’t looking so good.

A couple that I was very close to, was having their first child. This, of course, was well before all the couples that I know started getting pregnant. So I wrote this tune for their new son.

I had been listening to The Paul Winter Consort recordings and I knew that he had been playing the Winter Solstice concerts at St John The Divine (I’ve never seen that concert). It was Winter, so I composed my own Winter Solstice tune.

I had been listening to the pianist Michel Camilo and I was simultaneously feeling:
a) I wish I could play guitar the way he plays the piano.
b) Even if I had two lifetimes, I would not be able to play guitar the way he plays the piano.
With O Galo, I tried to capture some of the color/flavor of the fiery Latin pianist.. O Galo is Portuguese for “rooster” (the rooster is celebrated in Latin America with many very colorful figurines).

I was fresh out of college and in the midst of my ECM records obsession. I loved the way Egberto Gismonte played music, whether on guitar, piano, percussion, or voice. This was my nod to him.

These are the middle names of my parents. I wrote the the tune when I was working on Major7#11 and Dominant7#11 chord voicings. This is why the tune has so many of them in it.

I wrote this tune in about 10 to 20 minutes after getting the phone call from my mom about my dad’s heart attack. It was an evening in February. Margie didn’t want me to drive through the snow…”Lets just see how things are in a few days”… I wrote this tune, grabbed my coat, and drove to PA.

My folks had friends who had a house on Cape Cod (in the town of Nauset Bay). One Summer we had a family gathering there. I woke up early one morning and wrote this tune.

This is a tune for Diana (an old girlfriend). She didn’t much care for avant garde music (she called it killer bee music). She once asked me when I was going to write a tune for her. So I wrote this piece.

This was one of the first tunes that I wrote after college.

This tune was inspired by Jim Hall’s “Down From Antigua” tune on his 1981 “Circles” album.

I had met a girl from Switzerland. It was completely innocent. She was in NY visiting some mutual friends. She only stayed a few days. We wrote to each other for a while. She lived on a street named after Emanuel Kant (Kant Strasse). It was an awkward and somewhat frustrating experience. So I wrote this piece in 5/4 time that was and remains a somewhat awkward and frustrating tune to play.

I had written this tune for the quartet that I had in the late 80’s. It was really just a vehicle for open blowing. It had a distinctive flavor and to my surprise, when I mentioned that I was going to record a bunch of my old quartet tunes as solo guitar, my father asked if I was going to record this one. I hadn’t even considered it because it didn’t seem like it was suited for solo guitar. But since he mentioned it, I tried it.

Rolf Sturm
“Solo Acoustic”
CD Baby
“In the tradition of his inspirations, guitarist Jim Hall and pianist Bill Evans…” “…music that is sublimely sensitive, while maintaining an undercurrent of mystery with an improvisational edge…” “A truly expressive guitarist…”
Bill Milkowski (contributing writer Downbeat & Jazziz)

Rolf’s Guitar Tapas

CD: A Tale Of Trevor Nor
Band: Kloomp!
Track: “Death”
By: Rob Henke

CD: Back Home
Band: Sturm Brothers
Track: “Bip”
By: Hans Sturm

CD: It’s About Time
Band: Feed The Meter
Track: “Expectations”
By: Rolf Sturm

CD: “Spark”
Band: Jenna Mammina & Rolf Sturm
Track: “Bitter With The Sweet”
By: Carole King

CD: One World
Band: Jody Espina/Rolf Sturm Duo
Track: “Search For Sita”
By: Rolf Sturm

CD: Back Home
Band: Sturm Brothers
Track: “Back Home”
By: Rolf Sturm

Other Countries
CD: Footnotes
Band: Rob Henke And The Washington Street Players
Track: “Kirchner”
By: Rob Henke

CD: White Paws
Band: The Rob Henke Group
Track: “White Paws”
By: Rob Henke

Dixieland (Banjo)
CD: Standards
Band: Just Cause
Track: “The Return Of The Boll Weevil”
By: Public Domain/Rolf Sturm

CD: Standards
Band: Just Cause
Track: “Goin’ Down The Road Feelin’ Bad”
By: Public Domain