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); )