The journey to accomplish Earth Tones comes from a deep wish to create music that will express my profound search for connection with our true universal values: Peace, Harmony, Love and genuine Happiness.
The seed for this record was planted listening to a CD of Gongs, that I would put during the whole winter for bedtime with my children, in the house on top of the mountain of St. Carlos in the northeast of the Island of Ibiza. The house was situated in a huge forest of pinewood, hidden, and we had our bed above the chimney and the fire was burning every night, creating the beautiful shapes of light and shadow on the walls during the winter.
The winter after, I started to get interested in overtones, colors of tones and Coltrane’s circular musical handwriting. I wanted to dedicated more time to the soprano saxophone and I composed Earth Tones, a suite, based upon simple melodies, structures and overtones.
When I started to record I wanted to create an organic drone that would give me a peaceful base for the story of the record: the earth calling us (EARTH CALL) to participate to turn in harmony (EARTH TONES). I found four essential qualities: HOPE of everybody / SHARING of experiences that would lead to WISDOM and to UNCONDITIONAL LOVE, all based on the universal principle of harmony that was guiding me.
I started to record the drone orchestra, rich in overtones, first tambura, an Indian accompanying instrument and afterwards sarangi, a South Asian violin, then I added piano, flute, melodica, percussion instruments (maracas and bells). I recorded all instruments of the drone orchestra linear and tried to create a natural bow through that process. After the drone orchestra I recorded melodies and solos all in one take, in the order they appear on the record. Radomir came up with an equivalent idea of the guitar drones, consisting of drone guitar, arpeggio guitar, oscillating guitar and slide guitar (in SHARING und UNCONDITIONAL LOVE).
We were listening over months before we decided to invite Christian and Robert to record. They had already recorded with us the previous record Awakening (Dreamlandrecords DR 06 CD) and we knew that they would be able to feel the necessities of this music.
We finished complementing the last song (EARTH TONES) with an acoustic bass and a Percussion Drone, recording timpani and concert bass drum, chau gongs and wind gongs and Tibetan bells, which I had brought from Austria in the time of my fathers funeral. The Tibetan bells reminded me of the church bells that I could hear from my parents apartment in the south of Vienna on Sunday mornings, and I was amazed sitting in my fathers library after his departure experiencing them through ‘new ears’.
I hope that the listener will feel the same joy and excitement hearing this music.
Muriel Grossmann, Ibiza, January 2015
Oh that’s nice, when someone takes the time to create compositions and also gives them plenty of time to develop, time to breathe, so to speak. „Earth Tones“ of Austrian saxophonist Muriel Grossmann, who is living in Ibiza, is such an album. None of the pieces last less than ten minutes, and the band with Radomir Milojkovic, guitar, Robert Landfermann, bass and Christian Lillinger, drums knows exactly, how to conjure great melodic arcs. Muriel Grossmann generated a dense carpet of sounds with Tambura, Sarangi, maracas, flute and piano, and has dealt a lot with overtones, as you can tell, and therein gave to her soprano saxophone a beautiful frame. Muriel Grossmann, Radomir Milojkovic, Robert Landfermann and Christian Lillinger make music that carries on the spirit of John Coltrane. (bak) Christian Bakonyi, Concerto Ausgabe2 Austria April 2015
Muriel Grossmann – Earth Tones. There is a whole musical direction associated with sound therapy, the impact of the music for improving the mental and even physiological state of a person. Muriel Grossmann, detailed in the liner notes of her album Earth Tones the history and the goal of this project, not a single word is mentioning sound therapy. However, I am sure that having listened carefully Earth Tones and looked out the window, regardless of the weather, you will find the world more colorful, filled with life with a new meaning. I understand that it sounds a bit pompous, but the music really adds Muriel’s consciousness of optimism.
Earth Tones – a single suite, which consists of six large instrumental pieces, related to the general idea. In purely musical terms, writes Muriel Grossmann, the suite is based on a combination of simple melodies, textures and overtones. The leaders main tool – the soprano saxophone which is actively helped by the standard band, guitar, bass and drums. But beneath their sound is „planted“ the sound of a full orchestra from a variety of instruments European and, above all, of different ethnic origins. The content of the suite – the mute appeal of the Earth to a harmonious existence, the search for this harmony, and its acquisition. In contrast to the previously mentioned sound therapeutic works and many works in the genre of ambient music, the work of Grossmann is not conflict-free, it has a lot of emotion. The soprano saxophone of Muriel often „flies“ on top, she likes long-drawn phrases, often with vibrato. The power of this music is extremely positive.
Now it is time to tell more about the author of this wonderful project, and her colleagues. Experienced and mature musician, Muriel Grossman is originally from Austria, but in 2002 she moved to Spain, and in 2004 settled on the island of Ibiza. In her discography is quite a lot of work; she has collaborated with a number of well-known European musicians. Muriel plays on the different types of saxophones and even sings, but in this case, used only soprano saxophone. She prefers small compositions. Earth Tones is written in the format of the Quartet, which was also attended by her long-time partner, Serbian guitarist Radomir Milojkovic, thin, cool, I would say, philosophical solos which ideally set off the emotion of sound and rhythm of the German rhythm group Robert Landfermann – Christian Lillinger. By the way, the same personal was recording her album Awakening in 2013, so that the musicians know and understand each other. Among the founders of the project should be attributed Muriel and children: together with her mother, they created a painting featured on the album cover.
… Until now, with the image of a woman playing the soprano saxophone, I associated with the brilliant American Jane Ira Bloom. Muriel Grossmann plays differently, more lenient, perhaps more feminine, if there is an appropriate way for definition. I do not expect the appearance of the name of Muriel Grossmann in the lists of the Association of Jazz Journalists for the best soprano sax players: we know that the tastes of American critics suffer exceptional American centrism. But by the richness of her music, the stock of creative ideas and the technical baggage I personally have expanded the number of talented and bright soprano saxophonists of modern jazz.
Leonid Auskern, JazzQuad Belarus April 2015
The first work of saxophonist Ibiza as Here and Now (2008) or Birth of the Mystery (2010), intense and bare, were focused on energy; Awakening, we have just seen, sounded like a hymn to freedom. The next album, Earth Tones, actually reveals itself coltranian. Eminently coltranian. The urgency to say, the urgency of sound, were erased in favor of appeasement, serenity and finally won in the very idea of seeking, circular waves, spirituality: „Peace, Harmony, Love and genuine Happiness „are the four poles claimed by the saxophonist. Resonant and violently like the four movements of a major album in the history of jazz, right? The genesis herself of Earth Tones took over several months during which Muriel Grossmann especially concocted a drone orchestra made of oriental percussion, sarangi, piano and others, who immediately fomented a musical carpet conducive to travel and to elevate. Reflected in a pocket with colorful visual and whirling bass, drums and electric guitar swirl, impelling ocean waves, crazy currents inflame the wisps of the sax and compete for playing and music in this exiting musical flow, that vibrates like a great moment of spiritual jazz. Muriel Grossmann signs here probably her masterpiece.
Marc Sarrazy, Improjazz France January 2016