June 17, 2024


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CD review: Muriel Grossmann – Momentum – 2017: Video

Austrian alto, soprano, tenor saxophonist and composer Muriel Grossmann was born in Paris. She grew up in Vienna where she studied the flute and later switched to the saxophone (alto and soprano) to further her studies in music. Grossmann played and toured with various Rhythm & Blues, World Music and Jazz groups.

In 2002 she moved to Barcelona where she started to lead her own bands for recordings and concerts. She played and recorded with many well-respected musicians including Christian Lillinger, Robert Landfermann, Johannes Fink, Wolfgang Reisinger, Joachim Kühn, and Christoph Kurzmann. Muriel Grossmann was able to translate the influence of John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman into her own experience, creating a highly personal language. Besides the pursuit of her own music, Muriel Grossmann can also be heard playing Jazz and Rhythm and Blues with small and large orchestras, up to 200 concerts throughout the year.

Guitarist Radomir Milojkovic met Muriel in 2002 whilst playing on and off in different ensembles. It was not until 2006 that they joined forces to record an extensive body of work culminating with the records Awakening (Dreamlandrecords, 2013) and Earth Tones (Dreamlandrecords, 2015). Working with Grossmann, Radomir Milojkovic recorded fine rhythm and solo guitar work, rooted in the style of Blues and Jazz, providing a moderate, effective and direct way of playing.

Drummer Uros Stamenkovic joined Muriel Grossmann and Radomir Milojkovic in 2014. Uros and Radomir were childhood friends. Radomir recommended Uros because he knew that he would complement the group with his more “swinging” type of jazz drumming and groove oriented type of playing.

Gina Schwarz, the contrabassist, a long time friend and colleague of Muriel from their Vienna days, joined the group in 2015 for the work on Natural Time record (Dreamlandrecords 2016) and the tour that followed. Gina is a highly respected musician who provides an extraordinary groove and completes the quartet.

The album Natural Time marked the beginning of the new quartet, which has gone on to become a working group, playing tours and concerts. The present record, Momentum, seems like a logical step forward for these four immensely talented musicians.

Momentum’s opening composition, Elevation, reveals a high-energy approach to music. It is an inspired performance, packed with exciting rhythms and epic hymn-like melodies. Both Grossmann and Milojkovic are very much kindred high-intensity players, who have a deep and stimulating rapport, which has been honed over many years.

The title composition, Momentum, is an ecstatic piece of music. It inspires a strong feeling of positivity and is powerfully executed by the quartet.

After an explosive opening, Grossmann brings us to the meditative state of mind where the leader’s tenor saxophone voice is up-close and warm, seeking emotional communication and giving space to the lyrical ideas. Chant presents itself as a perfect vehicle for Gina Schwarz to take a long and exploratory pizzicato solo.

With the composition Sacred, Grossmann delivers an uplifting and mesmerising solo funnelled with melodic motifs. Grossmann has an ability to compose transcendent music. Using the saxophone as her expressive voice she explores the depths and ranges of the instrument. Especially in this piece Gina Schwarz excels in groove and flow of ideas confirming why she is the rhythm woman of choice for many musicians.

The composition Horizon puts on display Muriel Grossmann’s work as a composer, deepening the concepts started on the Earth Tones record. In this particular tune, orchestral layers – or as the composer calls them ‘drones’ – are coming forward like overtone sculptures creating polychordal structures. “The drones are played” as Muriel Grossmann puts it: ”in a harmonic structure to give more dimensions to the music”.

Through the composition Rising, Grossmann savours space and nuance, making music of the highest order. Rising serves also as a natural vehicle for Uros Stamenkovic, a straightforward player, who provides solid groove and embellishments, therefore keeping the character of the composition intact.

Gratitude is like an orchestral work where instruments intertwine in a powerful way, producing stealthy and mysterious music, slowly revealing itself.

With this record, the Muriel Grossmann Quartet delivers a fluid and power packed opus, which features the leaders torrid saxophone soloing. As Muriel herself says “Music should elevate people and bring listeners into an uplifted state of mind. Momentum is a call to take up your talent and give it forth for humanity, fighting for our values, preservation of nature and collaborating all now for our future generation.” This record has plenty of “ear candy” for dedicated listeners to enjoy.

  1. Elevation 10:02
  2. Momentum 10:46
  3. Chant 8:24
  4. Sacred 9:23
  5. Horizon 5:46
  6. Rising 12:44
  7. Gratitude 9:36

Muriel Grossmann – ts, as, ss; Radomir Milojkovic – g, Gina Schwarz – b; Uros Stamenkovic – dr.

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