ARCHIE SHEPP – the remorseless artist
By Martí Farré,Vilafranca, 10.07.2019
In spite of being a celebration with just a few performances, a fact that, according to how, increases its enchantment, this year’s the Sabadell bank Festival Vijazz Penedès offered one of the most eclectic posters in its history. From the jazz song of Madelaine Peyroux, who left the impression of the Plaza de Jaume I being small, the proposal switched to Latin -and flamenco — airs from the group led by Arturo O’Farill and Antonio Lizana, and to the piano trio of the Jamaican Monty Alexander, the Elia Bastida’smanouche jazz or the soul of the Key Sisters. But Two of the most outstanding performances of Vijazz 2019 were the one of the historical Archie Sheppand the one of the also horn player Muriel Grossmann.
From Ibiza to the Cloister of Sant Francesc
If the historic Archie Shepp closed the grid of Vijazz 2019, the Austrian — resident of Ibiza — Muriel Grossmann, was in charge of opening the event. Despite living a stone’s throw away from the mainland, Grossmann had never left the Pitiusas to perform at any Catalan festival or the rest of the mainland. This is a real anomaly for an artist who published the first album under her name more than a decade ago. The cycle “Elles i el jazz” was, then, the first opportunity to listen in Catalonia to a jazz woman who has been tutored by Joachim Kühn, among others.
Grossmann, who began her career in the field of the free, has been drifting towards a more rhythmic proposal, linked to the construction of enveloping climates. She has turned towards a kind of “wall of sound” almost mantric. Under a diverse palette of syncopated rhythmic patterns, very pronounced, executed with determination by drummer Uros Stamenkovic, grew a voluminous music, tinged by the spirit of the work of the horn players to whom she dedicates her last album, Golden Rule: from John Coltrane to Sun Ra, going through Albert Ayler, Yusef Lateef and, above all, Pharoah Sanders. Also, accordingly, we could add Gary Bartz.
Muriel Grossmann at the Vijazz Festival @Joan Carles Abelenda /Vijazz
In the Cloister of San Francesc she played pieces from Golden Rule, such as the one that gives the name to the album, or “Traneing In”, “Core” and “Light”, a balladistic counterpoint to the runaway force of the rest of the repertoire. She has also advanced some songs from her next album, this prolific creator: 8 CD in 11 years, not to mention some singles she has also released.
Cast to the soprano sax or to the tenor, Grossmann stood out for the solidity of her speech, seductive and brilliant at the same time, plastered with the sonorous mortar that formed the basis of most of the compositions of her quartet. In this sense, we must also assess the atmospheric task of the guitarist Radomir Milojkovic, fellow traveler of the Austrian since the beginning, who also excelled in the role of soloist.
One of the successes of the evening was the presence — perhaps accidental, given that on the original recording plays the bassist Gina Schwarz — of Hammond player Llorens Barceló. Apart from playing the role of the bassist with mastery, Barceló contributed to the almost lysergic character of the proposal with a series of extraordinary solos. The drummer Stamenkovic also had his moment of brilliance with a couple of improvisations.
Muriel Grossmann, one of the most unique, and at the same time in our country most unknown creators of our jazz, finally debuted at a mainland festival, within the framework of what was perhaps the least concessive session of the “Elles i el jazz” .