‘Eine Wienerin erobert die Jazzwelt’, Die Presse, July 2020, by Samir H. Köck
A Viennese woman conquers the jazz world
The Viennese jazz saxophonist, who lives in Ibiza, is starting her international career. Her style of spiritual jazz is of the utmost urgency. BY SAMIR H. KÖCK
For European musicians, it is somehow like being appointed to the state of nobility when one of the London independent Jazz labels catches your eye. And that happens more when you make yourself scarce. Like to Muriel Grossmann, the saxophonist born in Paris in 1971 and then raised in Vienna, who has lived and worked in Ibiza since 2007.
Gerald Short, who once ran a small shop in Camden Lock, now his Jazzman label is a label of the most keen jazz lovers, supplying the world with musical delicacies. “We dig deeper” is his slogan. He did so in the case of Grossmann, a pioneer of the current boom in spiritual jazz. In 2019 he released radio edits of long numbers like “Golden Rule” as a single. The shortening was not everyone’s cup of tea, but the single sparked interest in an artist, who works away from the big business, and working very actively. Since 2007 she has recorded nine albums on her Dreamland label, and in 2018 two more works followed on RR Gems. Short has now released the haunting album “Elevation”, which compiles pieces from 2016 and 2017. Another opus is to follow in autumn. Grossmann, who originally studied veterinary medicine, has been following the music of the old masters, above all the music of John Coltrane, but also Pharoah Sanders, Archie Shepp and Albert Ayler, for longer than Kamasi Washington and Shabaka Hutchings, who have made spiritual jazz popular again.
SHE LURES YOU INTO AN INVIGORATING TRANCE
This rubs off on her intense tone and on her architecture of the long arches. She likes to improvise to exotic sounding, pre-recorded “drones”: These are dense, polyrhythmic sound carpets with African and Indian instruments such as Kalimba, N’Goni, Krakebs, Balafon, Sarangi and Tambura, but also with piano and Bass. With these remedies, she lures you into a space of consciousness beyond simple wakefulness. But meditation does not work either. It is rather the case that the lively pulse of the music and the intensity of the saxophone sound lead into a kind of invigorating trance.
Grossmann is not the only jazz capacity on the Balearic island. Also the German pianist Joachim Kühn, who worked with Free jazz greats like Ornette Coleman and Archie Shepp lives there. The two made friends. Maybe there will be a collaboration someday. Until then, Grossmann will probably continue playing with her regular musicians, in addition to Gina Schwarz on bass, Radomir Milojkovic on guitar and Uros Stamenkovic on drums. No matter what wild landscapes the music goes in, the four trust each other. The delicate gracefulness of “Chant”, the flamboyance in somewhat brisk pieces like “Rising”, all of this sounds very authentic. With the climbing aid of the British label Jazzman, Muriel Grossmann will soon be a household name in the centers of jazz. Let us hope that she will then still be willing to play at the Porgy & Bess. BY SAMIR H. KÖCK