Article by Mihály Czékus, HFP, Feb. 2016

Ori­gi­nal arti­cle by Mihá­ly Czé­kus copy­right by

Trans­la­ti­on by Kata­lin Parti

Musi­ci­an Profile

Saxo­pho­nist-com­po­ser Muri­el Gross­man is reco­gni­zed as a real cos­mo­po­li­te. For she was born in Paris, spent her child­hood in Aus­tria and lives in Ibi­za for more than a deca­de now. She throws 150 con­certs a year on the average. Jazz, alt­hough being a niche gen­re, the­re might not be ano­t­her gen­re mani­fes­ting in such a wide ran­ge. The­re is a branch wit­hin jazz cal­led spi­ri­tu­al jazz. Its pioneer is said to be John Col­tra­ne, as that kind of immer­si­ve con­text was iden­ti­fied pri­ma­ri­ly in his records. After Col­tra­ne, the­re were a num­ber of jazz per­for­mers play­ing this way. Among them, the­re is Muri­el Gross­mann who­se care­er is going to be intro­du­ced below.

Here and Now
(2008) is Muri­el Grossmann’s first album, clear­ly cal­ling for the atten­ti­on of both experts and audi­ence. The com­po­si­ti­on of the band is alrea­dy a curio­si­ty, as saxo­pho­ne and drums are not typi­cal­ly pai­red in a band. This record could be addres­sed as a real path­fin­der. It is obvious that Gross­mann knows John Coltrane’s and Ornet­te Coleman’s work. It might be easi­ly assu­med from the abo­ve facts, that her com­po­si­ti­ons are not at all from the roman­tic saxo­pho­ne based com­pound. The reper­toire con­sists of eight num­bers of average length. The most remar­kab­le items on the record are „Magne­tic Uni­ver­se”, „Inter­ac­tion” and „Quint­essence”. Both salu­ting the ances­tors and bold expe­ri­men­ting are pre­sent in the tracks, see­king innovation.
Con­tri­bu­ting: Muri­el Gross­mann – alto saxo­pho­ne, Uno P. – drums

On the record tit­led Quar­tet (2008) Gross­mann stri­ves for lon­ger, and more immer­si­ve com­po­si­ti­ons, thus pro­vi­ding a wider play­field. As a con­se­quence, a vast amount of the reper­toire con­sists of eight-minu­te or lon­ger tracks. As it is expe­ri­en­ced in the musician’s later albums, she extends this time­frame even fur­ther. Gross­mann see­med to feel the frame­work of a duo for­ma­ti­on too nar­row, thus this record was made with the con­tri­bu­ti­on of her three musi­cal col­leagues. It is not easy to iden­ti­fy what is pri­ma­ri­ly catching our ears. Perhaps the vivid saxo­pho­ne play? Perhaps the enjoya­ble asser­ti­ve­ness of the tracks’? The­re is no simp­le ans­wer, most­ly becau­se Grossmann’s music can have an impact on more levels of con­scious­ness at a time. It can enhan­ce dif­fe­rent types of apperceptions.
Con­tri­bu­ting: Muri­el Gross­mann – alto saxo­pho­ne, Rado­mir Milo­j­ko­vic – gui­tar, David Mar­ro­quin – con­tra­bass, Mar­ko Jela­ca – drums

The tit­le Sud­den Impact might resem­ble of the 1983 Clint East­wood movie Sud­den Impact. Alt­hough Grossmann’s 2009, same tit­led record has not­hing to do with the movie. Nevertheless it is a very good record, in which the saxo­pho­nist is cou­ra­ge­ous­ly expe­ri­men­ting even with the com­po­si­ti­on of the band. After the duo and the quar­tet albums, Sud­den Impact, for the sake of diver­si­ty, is a trio album. The spe­cia­li­ty of the reper­toire is that two num­bers, alrea­dy part of the record Here and Now, are lis­ted here too. The first pie­ce „Joa­chim”, and „Magne­tic Uni­ver­se” in the initi­al third of the disk are recor­ded in com­ple­te­ly dif­fe­rent style. Tho­se who del­ve into both disks, can deci­de whe­ther the­se com­po­si­ti­ons are bet­ter per­for­med eit­her in the first, or the second ver­si­on. The­re are nine tracks on this sil­ver colo­red disk. The per­for­mer-com­po­ser seems to have deci­ded this time, that she pres­ents her the­sis in brief items. Thus, most of the tracks are only bet­ween three and four minu­tes long. Gross­mann turns her scope to free- and avant­gar­de jazz fearless­ly. She does this by mas­ter­ful­ly crea­ting a balan­ce bet­ween the abo­ve men­tio­ned two sub­gen­res. She mana­ges to keep the com­po­si­ti­ons in an alter­na­ti­ve groove.
Con­tri­bu­ting: Muri­el Gross­mann – alto saxo­pho­ne, Rado­mir Milo­j­ko­vic – gui­tar, Che­ma Pel­li­co – contrabass

Even the tit­le Birth of the Mys­te­ry (2010) sug­gests that Gross­mann com­po­sed here along an inten­se dri­ve. She did not think for a moment, whe­ther she should be empa­thic with tho­se who do not feel for music in the way she does. She just can­not ima­gi­ne that depth in music is not to be dis­co­ve­r­ed for the simp­le min­ded lis­tener. The musi­ci­an uti­li­zes the free­dom pro­vi­ded by jazz as a gen­re and she pipes that into inten­se musi­cal lan­guage. Her com­po­si­ti­ons dif­fu­se so much ener­gy and fresh­ness as one can be sure, that the artist enjoy­ed even the com­po­sing pro­cess. The seven-num­ber disk con­tains brief tracks such as „Breat­hing” (3:57) and also lon­ger ones such as „Strength” (11:02).
It would be dif­fi­cult to cho­se a favou­rite from the album, for it has such a balan­ced sys­tem and high level reper­toire, that con­tains coe­qual com­po­si­ti­ons. Gross­mann, through her well thought pie­ces and their tho­rough­ly com­po­sed per­for­man­ces spec­ta­cu­lar­ly draws the pic­tu­re of the „mys­tic birth”.
Con­tri­bu­ting: Muri­el Gross­mann – alto saxo­pho­ne, Rado­mir Milo­j­ko­vic – gui­tar, David Mar­ro­quin – con­tra­bass, Mar­ko Jela­ca – drums

The album tit­led Awa­ke­n­ing (2013) con­tains only a few pie­ces. This five-pie­ce reper­toire seems mode­ra­te at first glance. In rea­li­ty, each pie­ce in this record is a gran­dio­se take. Among the tracks, the shor­test is the tit­le song „Awa­ke­n­ing” with its 9:37’ length, and the lon­gest is „Wien” (14:46). As it was alrea­dy men­tio­ned abo­ve, the deeper Gross­mann goes into her care­er, the lon­ger her pie­ces beco­me, pro­vi­ding an ever gro­wing play­field. It can well be heard that the musi­ci­an is spla­shing in the waves of this role, she plays reck­less­ly, with gre­at joy and unfai­ling ener­gy. This record which is an expres­si­on and ful­fill­ment of free­dom, love, and inno­cence, is a real gift. It is a rede­fi­ni­ti­on of the self, though not the one crea­ted by thought or by the con­scious­ness, but bey­ond the thin­king self. Its indis­pensable pie­ces are the birth place inspi­red „Wien”, the smooth­ly flowing „Peace­ful River”, and the final „Ornet­te”. This album is high­ly recom­men­ded for tho­se who like leng­thy musi­cal pieces.
Con­tri­bu­ting: Muri­el Gross­mann – sopra­no saxo­pho­ne, Rado­mir Milo­j­ko­vic – gui­tar, Robert Land­fer­mann – con­tra­bass, Chris­ti­an Lil­lin­ger – drums

She con­ti­nues her spi­ri­tu­al musi­cal mis­si­on in Earth Tones (2015) recor­ded last year. While only rea­ding about it, one might tend to a mar­gi­na­liz­a­ti­on: eso­te­ric paths are deemed to lead into the moor of super­fi­cia­li­ty. Luck­i­ly, the musician’s messages are free of cor­ny phra­ses. This album is much more than only one among the eso­te­ric disks. This is true from more aspects. On the one hand, this is a jazz album, on the other, it almost com­ple­te­ly lacks enchan­ting tunes. The­re is a bound­less­ly matu­re, high­ly con­trol­led, and unearth­ly pas­sio­na­te musi­ca­li­ty ins­tead. The pre­sence of Coltrane’s and Coleman’s spi­rit are very pal­p­a­ble in this album as well. Gross­mann sea­sons her musi­cal menu with ele­ments of free and avant­gar­de jazz with a chef’s pro­fi­ci­en­cy. The album deals with the­mes ever popu­lar today, such as „Hope”, „Wis­dom”, and „Uncon­di­tio­nal Love”. Gross­mann seems to have found the most ide­al musi­cal band for­ma­ti­on in a quar­tet: this is her third album in a row tog­e­ther with three more musi­ci­ans. Moreo­ver, she has not chan­ged a bit on the per­son­nel, she went to the stu­dio with the same musi­ci­ans she recor­ded her pre­vious album, the Awa­ke­n­ing. Among its cha­rac­te­ris­tics the­re are the remar­kab­le solos, vivid saxo­pho­ne plays and a cli­max of team­work in musi­co­lo­gy. Like in her for­mer album, leng­thy items fea­ture this record as well. Moreo­ver, if it can be said, Gross­mann added ano­t­her log from the wood­box. The shor­test num­ber is the ele­ven-minu­te „Hope”, and the lon­gest is the seven­te­en-minu­te long „Sharing”.
Con­tri­bu­ting: Muri­el Gross­mann – sopra­no saxo­pho­ne, Rado­mir Milo­j­ko­vic – gui­tar, Robert Land­fer­mann – con­tra­bass, Chris­ti­an Lil­lin­ger – drums

The album tit­led Natu­ral Time came out this year (2016) and was alrea­dy intro­du­ced for the Buda­pest audi­ence in a con­cert. As I have men­tio­ned befo­re, the fur­ther Gross­mann in her care­er went, the more immer­si­ve and lon­ger her com­po­si­ti­ons beca­me. The­re is only one „short” pie­ce on this new record, name­ly „Your Pace”, with its six minu­tes. The other num­bers in the reper­toire repre­sent eight to twel­ve playtimes.
Music of the Muri­el Gross­mann Quar­tet is a power­ful expe­ri­ence, spi­ri­tu­al jazz in its best. It reaches for the heart and soul of the lis­teners, beau­ti­ful, moving, ran­ging from the rela­xing and peace­ful pie­ces to the ener­ge­tic and vital com­po­si­ti­ons. The­re is a cer­tain, unex­p­lainab­le radi­an­ce in Grossmann’s music. Alt­hough see­ing through the musician’s care­er so far, this unex­p­laina­bi­li­ty takes a nice tra­jec­to­ry. The pro­gress of the musician’s con­sci­ence is well track­able wit­hin the last eight years. While on the 2008 Here and Now she tri­es several pathes expe­ri­en­cing, on the cur­rent record she only fol­lows one path, very clear­ly. Gross­mann, pur­suing com­ple­teness, mana­ged to get­ting to know the limits of the human brain and the thought. She com­pre­hen­ded that it is not to be grab­bed but to be over­co­me, and to uti­li­ze it for what it is for. She rea­li­zed how to step into the now, the com­ple­teness, the sta­te of con­scious­ness-without-a-choice. The only dif­fi­cul­ty here is that Gross­mann is not sup­po­sed to wri­te an essay about her dis­co­ve­ries, but express herself in musi­cal lan­guage ins­tead. Addi­tio­nal­ly, her crea­ti­ons should not be ended in them­sel­ves, and their messages should be decy­pher­able for the audi­ence. The Buda­pest con­cert of the quar­tet was an evi­dence that Gross­mann coded her messages well, as the audi­ence see­min­gly decy­phe­red them. The stron­gest the­mes of the reper­toire were the tit­le song „Natu­ral Time”, „Hap­pi­ness”, and „Afri­can Dance”.
Con­tri­bu­ting: Muri­el Gross­mann – alto and sopra­no saxo­pho­ne, Rado­mir Milo­j­ko­vic – gui­tar, Gina Schwarz – con­tra­bass, Uros Sta­men­ko­vic – drums