Golden Rule’ review in Downbeat Dec 2018 by Andrew Jones

REVIEW in Down­beat Dec 2018, p 64

Muri­el Gross­mann
Gol­den Rule
RRGEMS05

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                  The phra­se “spi­ri­tu­al jazz” packs a pro­mi­se and a thre­at. It plays into a mytho­lo­gy about the exis­tence of a jazz that total­ly trans­cends com­mer­ci­al and mate­ri­al con­cerns. It also threa­tens the prepon­der­an­ce of someo­ne exp­lai­ning how they’re spi­ri­tu­al, but not reli­gious. On her new album, saxo­pho­nist Muri­el Gross­mann avo­ids both the­se traps. Gol­den Rule con­veys medi­ta­ti­ve tran­qui­li­ty and ecsta­tic joy without ever soun­ding over­ly pious. Most of the time, it’s also a lot of fun.

                  A cho­rus of instru­ments dro­ne behind a num­ber of tracks on GOLDEN RULE, but Grossmann’s per­for­mance real­ly is what makes it excep­tio­nal. Crisp drum and bass lines start off the stel­lar “Direc­tion” as a gui­tar comps hyp­noti­cal­ly and Gross­mann show­ca­ses her abi­li­ty to get the best of a tune melo­di­cal­ly. She plays a solo so lyri­cal every bar feels like a dis­cre­te com­po­si­ti­on. Bas­sist Gina Schwarz fol­lows with simi­lar­ly inven­ti­ve solo, the swir­ling dro­ne below len­ding dep­th and color.

               Gol­den Rule proud­ly wears John Coltrane’s influ­ence, and “Tran­eing In” demons­tra­tes Grossmann’s pro­wess on the sopra­no saxo­pho­ne. Schwarz under­pins the song with the spell­bin­ding bass line that chan­ges its pat­tern to gre­at effect when gui­ta­rist Rado­mir Milo­j­ko­vic takes a knot­ty, soul­ful solo. The tight­ness this group has built in its four years of play­ing shar­pens its brisk take on the com­po­si­ti­on.

                      The prac­tice of medi­ta­ti­on deeply shar­pens Gol­den Rule. The dro­nes under­ly­ing its tracks heigh­ten the ten­si­on on cer­tain offe­rings, but feel mono­to­nous after a while. For­tu­n­a­te­ly, the dyna­mism of its soloists and the quartet’s tele­ki­ne­tic per­for­mance deli­vers the album’s aim: pro­vi­ding a lis­ten­ing expe­ri­ence akin to trans­cen­dence. Andrew Jones