INTERVIEW FOR DIARIO DE IBIZA, DEC 2018 by Marko Torres
Jazz. Muriel Grossmann has recently published, along with the Estonian record label RR Gems Records, a double vinyl version of her latest album ‘GOLDEN RULE’. A limited edition of 400 copies has been produced, that can be purchased on the internet and different stores, and the album can also be found in digital format on different internet stores and ‚streaming’ portals.
“VINYL GIVES ALL THE SENSE TO THE MUSIC THAT WE PLAY”
Did this record come out first on CD? Tell me a bit how it was? When did you record it?
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to express myself here, for the Diario de Ibiza.
The recording of the ‘Golden Rule’ album has been made in 2017 in Ibiza during the season, and throughout the autumn and winter we have chosen the takes for the edition and recorded the additional instruments, which color the songs in a harmonic background, what we call drones.
The band was really playing strong, we just came from the tour, so it was the right moment to get into the studio and record. I had all the compositions ready, and some of them we had already played live, so they came naturally. The music was just flowing effortlessly. We were all focused and determined to make a powerful statement and carry out the third album of this band; it started by Natural Time (2016), then Momentum (2017) and now Golden Rule (2018) in the company of Radomir Milojkovic (with whom I work since 2002 together) on the guitar, Gina Schwarz from Austria as bassist and Uros Stamenkovic from Serbia at the drums.
What I’ll tell you now, sounds like fiction to me (;-) but nevertheless was real. Henry L. Sarmiento II, a master of sound, with a wonderful music studio ‘Sonic Vista Studios’ in Es Cubells, has been saying for many years: “open an Instagram account … it’s very good to connect outside! “… I never really wanted to do it since it gets you more into the world of the network, but in November 2017 I finally opened a profile by putting all kinds of musical content of everything done to date, and only one month later after registering the account, Valentin and Dimitri from RR GEMS Records an Estonian label that is dedicated to sharing and spreading a word about artists and albums that are not getting enough attention and praise (https://www.vinyloftheday.com/rr-gems-records/) was offering us to bring out a Vinyl from a current recording. And so, in that way we entered into a very satisfactory collaboration of respect and care, that has resulted in this beautiful 2x12” Gatefold Vinyl of 180 grams. I’m very happy! We agreed in releasing the CD about a month later, so that a momentum with the Vinyl could be created and … that’s how it was!
I find it curious that you make an edition on vinyl. Why on vinyl? How many copies have been made on vinyl? You can buy it online, right?
We are really very fond of vinyls. My father had more than 500 vinyls of classical music at home and also Radomir and Uros have their collection. We have always wanted to get our music out on this format, since it really reflects the qualities of our music in a very precise way.
Listening to music on Vinyl enters you into a much deeper listening. This I have been able to understand now, but it has been something, that I have always wanted to do, because I have always had the feeling that the Vinyl does justice to music. I do not want to say that other formats do not do that, but Vinyl gives all the sense to the music that we play, and it is just now, that we have been fortunate to do it.
A limited edition of 400 copies was released, which are now on sale on the RR GEMS Records homepage (https://www.rrgemsrecords.com), but the label is also distributing all around the world. You can find it in online stores and well-known sites such as Jazzman Records and Juno Records in the United Kingdom, HHV in Germany, Dusty Groove Record Store in Chicago, Funk Night in Detroit, Buch Spieler Records in Vermont in the United States and in other parts of the world. … soon I also hope you can get it in Barcelona and Madrid.
And I see that you have adapted the CD songs for the vinyl a bit. You have made them a little longer. Did you change the composition, the score or did it improvised?
The 7 songs of this album last 80 min and this is the maximum duration of a compact disc. The Double Vinyl has 4 sides with the possibility of 20 — 24 min on each one.
The song no. 5 ‘Traneing In’ lasts 14.30 minutes on the CD, and we were able to make an Intro for it, that can only be heard on Vinyl. For this introduction I let myself be guided by the song itself using its drones. There is nothing written. It is like an extra gift for the fans of the qualities of the Vinyl because it is really a sound with more nuances than a on CD or an mp3 of now.
Of course you can also buy or stream Golden Rule in all the usual online stores and it is also on my Bandcamp page (https://murielgrossmann.bandcamp.com/album/golden-rule) with the rest of my albums.
Why the Golden Rule title? What does it mean?
The music of my albums always reflects a theme in which I have deeply reflected for a long period of time. The Golden Rule of which all religious or spiritual traditions speak of, is understood as the reciprocity of a compassionate attitude. “Do onto others, what you want them to do onto you.”
I am a music guide in a wonderful Educational Center here in Ibiza that is laying the foundations of the new paradigm of education, it is called Universal Mandala and its founder and Director is Belén Köhler (http://www.universalmandala.org).
This school works on the deep and unlimited development of the human being, and in addition to using a visionary methodology offers training for teachers, parents and all those interested in deepening in the education of the future. I am part of this school, and besides developing the music curriculum; I also help with the expansion of the methodology and its evolution.
The Master training with Belen leads you to reflect and to work with the tools that lead to that education, that really favors and potentiates the development of the human, that we really are: wise and compassionate. And taking this reflection and tools into my daily life has logically also been reflected in my music, and from there I have tried, and I try to transmit ideas or solutions that I have come across through these reflections, and their effects on the day to day. I hope my music can reach as many people as possible and help many people.
I see that they call it modal or / and spiritual jazz. Do you agree? It is your style?
Yes I agree.
It is really just ‘music’ but it has the elements of Jazz that I like, such as swing phrasing and pretty and simple melodies to sing with. Always influenced by modal and spiritual jazz, and best represented on the albums of Miles Davis ‚Kind of Blue’ and John Coltrane ‚A Love Supreme’ among other great performers and records. This music speaks the universal language, which transcends the borders of the genre. Our music is based on powerful rhythms, which are deeply interwoven in jazz history. The melodic material is based on modes and scales, particularly on pentatonic scales, which makes it universal, because those scales can be found in all corners of the world, in the music of Africa, China, Japan, America, Europe, etc. The harmonic bases are not limited by chords and patterns, but are born of the modes and the scales, which gives the musicians a creative resource and the freedom to superimpose and find the right thing for the music that is played.
Also, they relate your music a lot with John Coltrane. Do you agree? What other references do you have?
John Coltrane has influenced all Jazz musicians. His sensitive tone, passionate, pure and far-reaching. His hymn-like compositions, his choice of musicians has been what fascinated me the most. Listening to it has resonated a lot with my being. It seemed to me a masterful, energetic and meditative music at the same time. I am also fascinated with the possibility of developing my own voice in long but energetic songs. This energy comes from within me and I see myself resonating with his music, but in my own way.
John Coltrane has always been and is a great influence. His work is impressive, so many changes in such a short time. Each period of his music is very important and influential. It has specific brands that always search in the past and in the future, but always firmly rooted in the moment. Discovering, studying and researching John Coltrane and his music is a lifelong experience that requires love, time and dedication. John Coltrane was one of the most passionate and beautiful figures in the history of jazz, his music means a lot to me and I owe him a lot. Golden Rule is one of the ways to thank him, but not the only one, since all my records have something to do with the spirit of John Coltrane.
I am also fascinated by Alice Coltrane, her use of the oscillating harp or Wurlitzer organ, and her predilection for the use of Indian and European instruments such as violins. ( like in the orchestration of her album, Universal Consciousness ‘, 1971 or, Lord of Lords’, 1972)
I listen to a lot of traditional African music from all over the continent, from the north like Gnawa or from Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Burkina Faso, .… traditional world music of Tuva, Bulgaria, ..
Other main influences are Charlie Parker, Illinois Jacket, Eddie Lock Jaw Davis, Count Basie and of course, Lester Young.
How do you compose? What is the process? Do your musicians intervene in the process?
The process of composition is always different and, in a certain way, it is an open road. Some melodies come out on the soprano saxophone, others on the tenor saxophone and others on the alto. Sometimes I write music with the piano, sometimes I just write on the paper and then I check it on the instrument. I always choose a tonal center that expresses well the emotion of the song. Since the album ‘Natural Time’ (2016) I have started the composition with the bass line. It suits me a lot, because for me the Groove is very important in transmitting the message of the song.
The compositions that are Rubato (which are free of groove) I start on the saxophone. I work a lot with Radomir in music throughout the year and we make many decisions together. At the time of recording I get into the studio with my musicians and Uros and Gina interpret my idea of rhythm in a fantastic way. But also sometimes even while recording, song structures can still change, according to the impulses of each one. The songs that somehow “call” us all are the ones that we later may choose for a live concert.
Also, I see that you have prepared another album, which will be released in March 2019. Have you recorded it yet?
The Record Label RR GEMS Records has proposed to us the renowned record company of United Kingdom ‘Jazzman’ to make a release in 7″ Vinyl format, and make 600 copies. It’s all finished, just missing the vinyl press.
But RR GEMS Records also proposed us to release another 12 “vinyl by about April 2019. So as this past summer we recorded a lot, the songs have already been chosen. Only the drone instruments are missing, the mix, and the master on the musical side.
We are very happy that RR GEMS gives us this great opportunity to express all our creativity.
There are some other albums that are ready to go, one with the great Austrian drummer Wolfgang Reisinger, and also a great album dedicated to Ornette Coleman that I recorded with Barcelona quartet.
What will that new album be called? Will it be the same style as Golden Rule or will it be different?
The names of the next two editions mentioned above I want to be a surprise for the time to come. The style is the same. But there is opening a way for a new phase that will be revealed at the right time. The first album is already recorded and will be released at the end of next year. The style is always evolving, always in movement, always transforming, … as well as life, always in constant change.
I’ve seen on your website that you already have concerts for next year in Austria. Do you play a lot outside of Spain, outside of Ibiza?
For each album that we have released we have made a tour to present it. I feel fortunate to have been able to open the 30th edition of Eivissa Jazz, in Vara de Rey on August 31 of this year 2018 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MBGZCfM24oQ&t=2333s) and to be able to play with regularity in the Balearic Islands.
I can see that with the RR GEMS Vinyl edition, our radius of action has spread towards the United Kingdom and the United States. There is demand for us to play there. I hope we can organize a tour in these countries in the next 2 years.
We are also dedicated practitioners of classical jazz. We love playing music of Lester Young, Count Basie, Illinois Jacquet, who are the bread and butter of our profession, and we are very grateful to be able to play that music and offer more than 140 concerts a year playing classical jazz.