Finally a new world jazz star from Austria
Original article HERE
Muriel Grossmann. The Viennese saxophonist lives on Ibiza, releases on an Estonian Label now she plays again in Porgy & Bess.
BY SAMIR H. KÖCK
A sharp motive on the electric guitar, cymbal hits, a mild wind from the Hammond organ. Then Muriel Grossmann began with an urgent tone on the tenor saxophone and took off straight away… “Happiness” is the name of the piece. Based on classic blue note hard bop aesthetics, the saxophonist quickly moves in the direction of spiritual jazz à la Alice and John Coltrane. The comparison with these legends of the 1960s, which is often expressed by international experts, is annoying and flattering at the same time. In an interview with the “Presse”, Grossmann says that she does not master her instrument as perfectly as John Coltrane, but if her music reminds of him, she is very happy.
She also has joy with her band: the Serbs Radomir Milojkovic on the guitar and Uros Stamenković on the drums have been playing with her for almost 20 years. You can hear that. New in the combo is the Hammond organist Llorenç Barceló. Again and again he formed inaudible syllables with his lips, as if he wanted to summon his rapturous hissing instrument. Because bassist Gina Schwarz was unavailable for the last recording session, he got his chance. And he took it, leading the band into new, more worldly waters. That evening Gina Schwarz was only “Special Guest” on two tracks from the album “Golden Rule”, released in 2018, which has proven to be a key work in Grossmann’s career.
Until 2018, Grossmann only released CDs on her own label. Then Estonian Dmitri Kalinin began releasing their music on LPs. The vinyl pressings with new visual aesthetics and audiophile sound quality fueled international interest. The British BBC man Gilles Peterson celebrated them big in his radio broadcasts. British label owner Gerald Short soon released a single and several compilations. No wonder, since the idiosyncratic sound fits perfectly into the current renaissance of spiritual jazz, which his label Jazzman is promoting.
Of course, Grossmann was never interested in fashion. She simply plays what comes out of her: flamboyant, intense and in several voice ranges, i.e. on tenor, alto and soprano saxophone. She now has the most fans in the USA and Great Britain. This puts her in the pantheon of the few internationally acclaimed jazz musicians from Austria. There aren’t many because local masters like Erich Kleinschuster, Fritz Pauer and Karlheinz Miklin preferred to seek the security of radio orchestras and jazz universities instead of venturing out into the world. Only Hans Koller, Joe Zawinul, Michael Mantler, Wolfgang Muthspiel and, to a lesser extent, Karl Ratzer, who incidentally will be awarded the title of professor this week, did that. Perhaps also as a consolation for not fully realizing his potential.
Is Ibiza a jazz island after all?
Grossmann does the same thing in practically every one of their concerts. This evening especially in “Traneing In”, to which Gina Schwarz contributed a wonderfully elastic bass figure. When she composed hers, Grossmann had no idea that John Coltrane had a piece of the same name in his repertoire. In the Porgy she celebrated this winding excursion into the open for almost a quarter of an hour, starting with an oriental melody on the soprano saxophone.
In “African Dance”, which is backed by a dense carpet of rhythm, she showed that she also masters the earthy. The lyrical highlight of the evening was the yearning melody of “Sundown”. She conjured up Ibiza in front of the inner eye. What a striking melody! Not to be compared with the narcotic sundowner ambience of a José Padilla. Sun-saturated, majestic jazz that strengthens instead of sedating. Maybe Ibiza is a jazz island after all?
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