Album Notes – Natural Time


               When I was asked to write liner notes for this record, I met with Muriel Grossmann to hear the music and make the interview. Listening to the Natural Time record in its entirety, was indeed an experience, like traveling without moving, and I could not help but think, that there is a link to what somebody once said: “There’s a lot of modal music, that is played every day throughout the world. It’s particularly evident in Africa, but if you look at Spain or Scotland, India or China, you’ll discover this again in each case. If you want to look beyond the differences in style, you will confirm that there is a common base. That’s very important. Certainly, the popular music of England is not that of South America, but take away their purely ethnic characteristics – that is their folkloric aspect – and you’ll discover the presence of the same pentatonic sonority, of comparable modal structures.”

              The link was not only confirmed, but also broadened during conversation, through another aspect that is equally important to the artist. “For me Natural Time is about bringing forward the essence of ones nature. You have kept your path and one day, everything comes together. In Music it is like in life. It feels like, when living according to that inner call, your energy is having direction. You just know, what you have to do, each step you are taking feels to be at the right time. Same goes for this record and tunes, particularly in Peace for All and Your Pace, it elaborates on the same thought of making things right and bringing forward the best in yourself, other people and the situation you are in. As for African Dance, it’s a homage to this abundant land and it’s great people, while Happiness is a meditation on happy thoughts from moment to moment.”

                   Finding the right musicians was an important part in the making of Natural Time, musicians who play it peacefully but intense. “I’ve played with Uros Stamenkovic many years ago in Barcelona, before he went to live and play in Toronto, but on his way back to Europe, we started to play a lot more together – a great musician who knows to play for the group and knows what music needs. As for Gina Schwarz, we know each other from Vienna where we played with different groups. Her strong bond with music comes through with every note she plays. With Radomir Milojkovic I have worked for so many years and we made a lot of music together and yet every new record is a new adventure. This time it turned out to be about voyage, open space, driving through woods, desert, mountains, near seaside. We were also trying to implement different kinds of instrumentation and sets of musical drones to the compositions like sarangi, flute, harmonium, bells and others, as we already introduced in our previous album ‚Earth Tones‘ DR 07 CD.”

                 What works good for the conclusion of this liner notes, is what Muriel Grossmann said to me at the end of our conversation. “Natural Time is a simple true message, simply played for people like you and me.”
J. C. Sanders


I have had the pleasure to acquaint our readers with the works of Austrian saxophonist Muriel Grossmann, living on the Ibiza, Spain, for her 2015 album Earth Tones. On the first day of 2016 Muriel released a new album under the name of Natural Time. If the previous work carried a conceptual Grossmann (an overview of the disk can be found on the website), the outwardly Natural Time is not. As Muriel described in an interview with JC Sanders, which formed the basis of his liner notes, „Natural Time is just a sincere message, an album, where we play for ordinary people like you and me.“ I personally think, it is not so, because here almost every composition, even if not linked by a common theme, has its philosophical implications. 

However, let us first hear about the obvious changes in Natural Time in comparison with her previous work. Muriel plays here not only on the soprano but also the alto saxophone. Preserving the format of the quartet, she and her regular partner, the guitarist Radomir Milojkovic, work here with a new rhythm section. It is the Austrian bassist Gina Schwarz, an old friend of Muriel still in Vienna, and the Serbian drummer Uros Stamenkovic. The quartet herein reaches gender parity, and perhaps the balance of yin and yang was the key to the harmony and inner balance of the performance of Muriel Grossmanns music. This, of course, a joke, but in the past, and now the positive energy really comes through with each song of the album.

The Titlesong and one of the longer pieces of the album ( „Natural Time“) – I took it as a reflection on the fleeting time, dating back to the biblical „time to be born and a time to die“ of made and missed – has a beautiful solo of Grossmann and Milojkovic, in the background a relentlessly repetitive rhythmic soundscape, inspired by just such a possibly erroneous interpretation. In contrast to this title piece, in the final composition „Bliss“, it seemed to me, there is no time at all. From this piece breathes Buddhism, it is full of inner peace, as if lost in the ascetic nirvana – again in my free interpretation of Muriel Grossmanns music. And the „key“ for the music which happens, the composer gives herself in the same interview for the liner notes. Reflections on happiness („Happiness“) with an impressive bass solo by Gina Schwarz in the introduction, and also another does not require explanation, the piece called „Peace For All“, and dedicated to the plight of Africa „African Dance“ a piece with a graceful rhythmic pattern.

And for all this profoundnes, this music is surprisingly easy to listen. If there is the concept of „user-friendly interface“, is applies to the music of Muriel Grossmann, she is fit to introduce a „friendly new jazz“; this style of music is not always found. And the final touch to this review: one thing in the new project remaines unchanged, compared to the previous: the album cover art again is decorated by Muriel and her children – abstract bright juicy colors – as in the music of Muriel Grossmann.
Leonid Auskern, JazzQuad – Belarus  03.02.16

The Austrian saxophonist Muriel Grossmann, who is living on Ibiza, has again brought out with „Natural Time“, as well as with the albums before a timelessly beautiful, intense Album, inspired by Coltrane’s Sound. With guitarist Radomir Milojkovich Muriel Grossmann has a longstanding companion at her side and he knows to use the sound of his guitars to accomplish the band extremely well in addition to the fantastic, bassist Gina Schwarz and drummer Uros Stamenkovic, this time responsible for the rhythm.

Soli without idlers or plates quotations are the spice of this great audio medium. The title track, which maintains the rhythm from the first until the last minute, about ten minutes but it could also go twenty minutes, so happily one allowes himself to fall into this meditative music. Instead, there are still seven other tracks that never diminish the attention and bring musical influences from Africa and India, for example. Albums with this certain jazz spirituality have become rare, the more important that with the saxophonist Muriel Grossmann someone is there, to not let us forget this spirituality. (Bak) Christian Bakonyi, Concerto – Austria  Aug/Sept 2016

Saxophonist Muriel Grossmann grew up in 
Vienna but has lived in Ibiza for over a decade, recording eight albums there, all but one with guitarist Radomir Milojkovic; her latest, Natural Time, enlists Viennese bassist Gina Schwarz and drummer Uros Stamenkovic (who, like Milojkovic, is from Belgrade). Over the course of their partnership Grossmann and Milojkovic have develop a signature aesthetic based on modal centers, pentatonic melodies and polyphonic drones, a Spartan approach provoking interest through its meditative quality. The drones are thickened with discreet tambura (or shruti box), sarangi, whistles and chimes. Milojkovic’s trilling obbligato parts are often layered and panned, with a third guitar holding chords, while bass and drums keep time. Grossmann, at the center, supplies cool passion. New York City Jazz Record