Review of ‘Universal Code’ by Leonid Auskern, Jazz QUAD, White Russia 2022

Muri­el Gross­mann — Uni­ver­sal Code — 2022
Album review by Leo­nid Aus­kern — ori­gi­nal Arti­cle HERE

After a small, lar­ge­ly spon­ta­ne­ous, last year’s “Uni­on” album — a stu­dio con­cert that repla­ced the fai­led live record­ing at a con­cert — the Aus­tri­an saxo­pho­nist, com­po­ser and band lea­der Muri­el Gross­mann, who is well known to our regu­lar rea­ders, recor­ded this year a very solid album “Uni­ver­sal Code”, both in terms of sound volu­me and music qua­li­ty. Next to her in the stu­dio were all tho­se musi­ci­ans with whom she has been working in recent years: Ser­bi­an gui­ta­rist Rado­mir Milo­j­ko­vic, his com­pa­tri­ot, drum­mer Uros Sta­men­ko­vic, the orga­nist Llo­renç Bar­ce­lo (Spa­nish — Balea­ric, though not from Ibi­za, but from Mal­lor­ca) who made his debut in the Grossmann‘s ensem­ble when record­ing Rever­ence and the bas­sist from Aus­tria, Gina Schwarz, who has play­ed more than once with Gross­mann and who joi­ned the afo­re­men­tio­ned quar­tet on three tracks.

Muri­el offe­red the lis­teners a pro­gram of nine new com­po­si­ti­ons, per­for­med in her cha­rac­te­ris­tic style, orga­ni­cal­ly com­bi­ning the most modern trends in jazz with a solid back­ground of Coltrane’s ide­as. Perhaps this time this syn­the­sis tur­ned out to be the most impres­si­ve, and the ensem­ble sound in Uni­ver­sal Code see­med to me the most solid and inte­gral. This fee­ling aro­se alrea­dy when lis­tening to the first track of the album, Reso­nance, in which Gross­mann and Milo­j­ko­vic take turns giving out solos one brigh­ter than the other, and Stamenkovic’s rhyth­mic drawings at first made me remem­ber Rever­ence (2019) with its empha­sis on Afri­can motifs, and then trans­for­med natu­ral­ly into funk. In the intro­duc­to­ry part of Cla­ri­ty, the organ of Bar­ce­lo con­fi­dent­ly assu­med the func­tions of the bass, anti­ci­pa­ting a long exten­ded solo by the lea­der of the ensem­ble, and again the per­cus­sion sound­ed excel­lent. For Inter­con­nec­tion, the lon­gest pie­ce of the album with a sound length of ten and a half minu­tes, Muri­el sug­gested a medi­um tem­po, her sopra­no saxo­pho­ne solo sound­ing light and airy, like a breath of Balea­ric bree­ze, and Milojkovic’s gui­tar draf­ting a genui­ne swing. In the next three songs we can hear a quin­tet with the par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on of Gina Schwarz. I was par­ti­cu­lar­ly impres­sed by the pie­ce Tran­si­en­ce, whe­re in the midd­le of the com­po­si­ti­on she per­for­mes an unex­pec­ted­ly lyri­cal dou­ble bass solo, neat­ly fit­ting into the fol­lowing solo exploits in the spi­rit of modal jazz of Gross­mann and Bar­ce­lo. But in Essence, whe­re Muriel’s solo rose abo­ve the tra­di­tio­nal blues form, I thought I heard some­thing ori­en­tal in the sound of her sopra­no. Grossmann’s tenor saxo­pho­ne and flu­te, Milojkovic’s gui­tar and Stamenkovic’s drums inter­ac­ted per­fect­ly in Post-Medi­ta­ti­on, and the final pie­ce of Com­pas­si­on tur­ned out to be a warm gree­ting to rock fans.

I under­stand that the­se brief and sub­jec­ti­ve impres­si­ons give a very weak idea of the merits of Muri­el Grossmann’s new work, but perhaps thanks to them someo­ne will let you dis­co­ver this very talen­ted and crea­ti­ve per­for­mer and composer.

© & ℗ 2022 Dreamlandrecords

9 tks / 77 mins
(Muri­el Gross­mann – ss, as, ts, fl; Rado­mir Milo­j­ko­vic – g; Llo­renç Bar­celó – org; Uros Sta­men­ko­vic – dr, Gina Schwarz – b (tks 4–6); )


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