Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Muriel Grossmann - Reverence (Dreamlandrecords, 2019)

Saxophonist Muriel Grossmann's latest album was influenced by the music of Africa, looking at the source of rhythm from the continent and it's implications in modern jazz. She is joined by Radomir Milojkovic on guitar, Gina Schwarz on bass, Uros Stamenkovic on drums and Llorenç Barceló on organ. "Okan Ti Aye" opens the album with rolling drums and percussion creating a deep and exciting layering of potential energy. Organ and guitar gradually enter with saxophone following adding a spiritual jazz flavor and the band is coming together with a common goal. Nimble guitar, sounding tightly wound, steps out, with a well played solo over the percolating band. Saxophone and drums drive forward keeping pace with one another and offering a strongly rhythmic presentation, stretching out in a very exciting manner. Bass and harp like strings with percussion set the stage for "Union" and Grossmann's soaring soprano saxophone. The music is very open and free sounding, moving over the available space patiently, framed by subtle waves of organ. It gradually gathers volume and intensity as the players develop a cohesive group improvisation. "Water Bowl" uses a quality guitar rhythm with swirling organ and saxophone to open a fantasia of possibility, light and flowing in tone as the music is in constant motion. There is strong saxophone soloing over a deep groove set up by the rest of the band, handing off to the guitarist who strikes sparks of his own against a crisp cymbal beat. Organ, bass and drums keep up the deep groove with some keyboard flourishes attached. Gentle harp like strings and soulful tenor saxophone open the ballad "Sundown" with some keyboard asides. Soft ballad tenor saxophone and gurgling keyboards with gently playing rhythm section moves ahead. But the track works best with saxophone and glowing organ and harp, providing echoes of Alice Coltrane. "Chase" has a much faster and urgent rhythm, drums and bass pushing, saxophone and guitar surging ahead fast and furious. Stamenkovic is riding the cymbals like a jockey and Grossman's saxophone is played with speed and grace. Their collective improvisation is powerful and full speed ahead, stopping on a dime for a more open section of strings and percussion. Steep percussion and dexterous guitar bring the group back out of meditation, and the leader joins back in and uses her saxophone to take the group to a strong conclusion. A nearly funky opening for the rhythm team sparks "Tribu" with strong ribbons of saxophone flowing forth across the base of the music and a ripe guitar solo that keeps the piece moving forward briskly. Long melodic lines of saxophone keep this performance accessible and enjoyable with everybody chipping in to keep the flow going. "Afrika Mahala" has stark heavy percussion and complex string playing, balanced by dark toned tenor saxophone, with Coltrane overtones. There is a darting guitar solo, played well adding shards of sound as notes break off and fly. The saxophone soars back in with slashing drumming along side for an epic duo focused section absolutely crushing it before returning to a full band segment to round out the piece. Finally, "Morning" closes the album with unusual percussion and string sounds giving an exotic flavor, then coalescing into a fine rhythm filled out with sound and deep pulsing tenor saxophone that sounds warm and whole, with elastic bass and thick rhythmic accompaniment. The music blooms organically with keyboards and guitar furthering the cause by adding ideas as the music ebbs and flows according to whim and wisdom. The music on this album is quite successful and is reminiscent of the African influenced records of the Seventies like McCoy Tyner's Sahara or work by Gary Bartz's Nu Troop. If you are a fan of that music, you will find a lot to like here. Reverence -

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