Album Notes — Momentum

ALBUM NOTES

                  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.
— Bert Jan­nick

 

REVIEWS

IMPROJAZZ, Fran­ce Jun/2018 by Marc SARRAZY
Like a hand­ful of cher­ries dan­cing at the end of the branch, prey to the wind, a few notes of bea­ded, sus­pen­ded gui­tar that rock and rise. Who is cal­ling a rhythm like others would per­form a rain dance? Thus, in a few seconds, a real musi­cal incan­ta­ti­on takes shape that sud­den­ly takes flesh by the thun­de­rous arri­val of the tenor saxo­pho­ne. We have all seen, one win­ter day clo­ser to the hearth, a bunch of fla­mes instant­ly born from a car­pet of glo­wing embers, take shape and begin to swell, spin­ning in a cra­zy dance, gro­wing, inexor­ab­ly amoun­ting. This pic­tu­re, this sto­ry, is the one told by the album Momen­tum and this, from the very first mea­su­res of the inau­gu­ral pie­ce, the aptly named “Ele­va­ti­on”. The music, initi­al­ly eva­ne­scent, embarks on a per­pe­tu­al, almost spi­ri­tu­al quest, which ine­vi­ta­b­ly rises to the sound of a pri­mor­di­al groo­ve, sup­por­ted by the stur­dy sway­ing of the dou­ble bass play and by the odd struc­tures attrac­ted by the rhyth­mic exci­te­ment of the drum­mer.

The pie­ces of the disc often come clo­se to the ten minu­tes; it is the ide­al time for the musi­cal work to pre­sent its­elf bloo­m­ing in the remi­nis­cen­ces. The ide­al time for light saxo­pho­nistic fevers spin­ning in its own drun­ken­ness, becau­se the impro­vi­sa­ti­ons unfold free­ly, insi­de the rhyth­mic waves and the effer­ve­scence sound. The pie­ces fol­low each other, the har­mo­nies come into reso­nan­ce and rever­be­ra­te, “Momen­tum”, as an evi­dence, “Chant”, natu­ral and uni­ver­sal, “Sacred”, a true hymn tur­ned to the pas­si­on for free­dom, the incan­descent “Hori­zon”, the power­ful “Rising” that responds as an echo to “Ele­va­ti­on”, final­ly “Gra­ti­tu­de”, as a thank you to the mas­ter, lucid and sere­ne. By its struc­tu­re inde­ed, its flam­boyant path, its moving chants and the solar flights of the saxo­pho­ne, Momen­tum can be read as a poi­gnant homage to A Love Supre­me.

Muri­el Gross­mann, who had embar­ked on a rough free jazz in the late 2000s, crossing the roads of Joa­chim Kühn and Wolf­gang Rei­sin­ger, began to refo­cus on her quar­tet trai­ning with gui­ta­rist Rado­mir Milo­j­ko­vic, faith­ful accom­pli­ce of the saxo­pho­nist: he deve­lops a poin­til­list game ador­ned with spar­k­ling trills, who also stubborn­ly works the reso­nan­ce of a sin­gle note in the man­ner of … David Gil­mour. With the team of Gina Schwarz and Uros Sta­men­ko­vic the group has found its ground and the Col­tra­ne aes­the­tics, initia­ted sin­ce the excel­lent Earth Tones (2015), was con­fir­med with Natu­ral Time (2016), a record just as deep, and today with Momen­tum, the tri­lo­gy has found its cul­mi­na­ti­on.

Vibrant, pas­sio­na­te, exhilara­ting, the music of Muri­el Gross­mann cap­ti­va­tes majes­ti­cal­ly. And Momen­tum: a monu­ment of what is cal­led spi­ri­tu­al jazz. Marc SARRAZY, Impro­Jazz, June 2018


CONCERTO Dec/2017 by Chris­ti­an Bakonyi
After albums „Awa­ke­n­ing“, „Earth Tones“ and „Natu­ral Time“ Muri­el Gross­mann fasci­na­tes once again with „Momen­tum“, with her high­ly spi­ri­tu­al, exci­ting, cap­ti­vat­ing way of play­ing the saxo­pho­ne. Gross­mann has recor­ded „Momen­tum“ tog­e­ther with the gui­ta­rist Rado­mir Milo­j­ko­vic, the bas­sist Gina Schwarz and the drum­mer Uros Sta­men­ko­vic. It offers a won­der­ful jour­ney into the jazz, that was once play­ed by John Col­tra­ne.

Alrea­dy the music of the ope­ner com­po­si­ti­on „Ele­va­ti­on“ reaches out, it does not pull or tear, but invi­tes with sen­si­ti­vi­ty, to the diver­se sounds, which will yet come. Muri­el Gross­mann and her quar­tet crea­te a sound space that enve­lops one like a war­ming coat in the cold win­ter, while one is rela­xing watching the fli­cke­ring, natu­ral light off the fire­place, which dips the room in ever new colors with fri­end­ly dan­cing shadows. The almost 67 minu­tes felt like 20, so exci­ting are the seven pie­ces that you can start right away again from the begin­ning, becau­se you will dis­co­ver new things, find new sounds in this won­der­ful water­co­lor of sounds. (Bak) Chris­ti­an Bakonyi, Con­cer­to, Aug/Sept 2017

NEW YORK CITY JAZZ RECORDS Mar/2018  by Elliott Simon
The spi­ri­tu­al con­nec­tion on Momen­tum is imme­dia­te­ly obvious. Saxo­pho­nist Muri­el Gross­mann has long his­to­ries with gui­ta­rist Rado­mir Milo­j­ko­vic, bas­sist Gina Schwarz and drum­mer Uros Sta­men­ko­vic, deve­lo­ped through many per­for­man­ces and record­ings. Gross­mann is clear­ly in con­trol as she uses tenor, alto and sopra­no to lead band and lis­tener on a jour­ney that takes off like a mis­si­le, pas­ses through medi­ta­ti­on, reaches nir­va­na and ends with thanks­gi­ving.

Grossmann’s inten­se solo sup­pli­ca­ti­on and power­ful jous­ting with Milo­j­ko­vic begins the ses­si­on as “ele­va­ti­on” rises into a sanc­tified set­ting. The com­pa­ri­son to Col­tra­ne is clear but the quar­tet finds its own supre­me space through the tit­le track’s initi­al intro­s­pec­tion, gor­ge­ous tenor phra­sing and pene­tra­ting gui­tar solo­ing. Schwarz and Sta­men­ko­vic but­tress the melo­dies with unce­a­sing rhythm and shif­ting aug­men­ta­ti­on. The lat­ter is a beau­ti­ful­ly emo­ti­ve play­er and ensu­res that the excur­si­on remains smooth and on cour­se. “Chant” cle­ver­ly gives her space, allo­wing a piz­zi­ca­to solo to defi­ne a man­tra ans­we­red by the melis­ma­tic saxophone/guitar pai­ring on “Sacred”.

Hori­zon” is a glim­p­se of enligh­ten­ment, sopra­no pain­ting a free land­s­cape befo­re “Rising” snak­e­char­mes its way to a pen­ul­ti­ma­te peace­ful Groo­ve dri­ven by per­cus­sive deco­ra­ti­on. “Gra­ti­tu­de” appro­pria­te­ly clo­ses the ses­si­on with a gra­te­ful bene­dic­tion, high­ligh­t­ing Grossmann’s impro­vi­sa­tio­nal skills. Known pri­ma­ri­ly for her excep­tio­nal work on alto and sopra­no, Gross­mann unco­vers new spi­ri­tu­al spaces on Momen­tum by skill­ful­ly incor­po­ra­ting the expan­ded tonal and tex­tu­ral palet­te of her tenor in the con­text of a com­pa­ti­ble quar­tet. Elliott Simon, March 2018, NYC Jazz Record

THE WALKER‘S, Japan 2017 Vol. 51 by Masay­u­ki Koi­to
In the latest work of Muri­el Gross­mann – Momen­tum, you can feel the power of the Aus­tri­an-born saxo­pho­nist, who releases albums at the pace of one year in the past few years. Each work focu­ses on a cover design full of art sen­se, but this new work also shi­nes with a blue-tone design. The same mem­bers as in her pre­vious work par­ti­ci­pa­ted, and Muri­el this time playes tenor, alto and sopra­no saxo­pho­ne. The album was recor­ded on Ibi­za an island in the wes­tern Medi­ter­ra­ne­an. „Ele­va­ti­on“ the ope­ning pie­ce is play­ed with high ener­gy aproach. „Momen­tum“ the tit­le pie­ce expres­ses an ecsta­tic part of music. The fema­le upright bass play­er Gina Schwarz playes a gre­at solo on „Chant“. Muriel’s tone on sopra­no saxo­pho­ne is impres­si­ve on „Hori­zon“. The last tune „Gra­ti­tu­de“ feels magni­ficent like an orches­tra. The seven songs stand out for the talent for com­po­sing of Muri­el Gross­mann. Masay­u­ki Koi­to, The Walker‘s, Japan 2017 Vol. 51