Muriel Grossmann Announces Devotion LP
Muriel Grossmann, will release her forthcoming album Devotion, via Third Man Records, on December 1st. Along with the news, Grossmann has shared new single “Calm,” which is available to stream now via all DSPs.
The Austrian jazz saxophonist and composer was born in Paris, raised in Austria, and began classical flute studies at five. She didn’t begin playing the saxophone until she was 21, and for years, only the alto and soprano. She taught herself by playing along with records by Charlie Parker, Cannonball Adderley and Gerry Mulligan. After picking up the tenor years later she immersed herself into the music of Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Stanley Turrentine and Illinois Jacquet, all of whom influenced the soul jazz era. She embodied those influences as signifiers for one of the most identifying aspects of Grossmann’s sound: The reliance on groove. After completing formal music studies, she played and toured with various funk, R&B, world music, and jazz groups. Grossmann moved to Spain in 2002, and began leading her own bands.
Two years later she relocated to Ibiza, her base ever since. The atmosphere of the tropical island locale and its multivalent culture influenced her journey as an artist. Her debut as a leader in 2008 with the record Quartet appeared on her own Dreamland Records. Then, as now, Grossmann’s deeply committed DIY aesthetic supervises every aspect of recording, production and presentation including painting her record covers. She cut it with a quartet that included Belgrade-born guitarist Radomir Milojkovic, her constant collaborator ever since and the rhythm section composed of Marko Jelaca on drums and David Marroquin on bass. An exercise in crystalline, swinging post bop, it drew positive notice from the European music press and resulted in her playing more gigs. 2010’s Birth of the Mystery moved outside musically, without sacrificing the trademark welcoming harmonic sensibility. 2016’s Natural Time with Milojkovic, double bassist Gina Schwarz and drummer Uros Stamenkovic, offered an airy, open, engagement with drones and endlessly circular rhythms. 2017’s Momentum, with its flourishes of spiritual soul jazz, bluesy guitars and extended compositions.
2018’s Golden Rule reached a new watermark. Grossmann played tenor and soprano saxophone; its music was dedicated to the influences of John Coltrane – check the stunning soprano vehicle, “Traneing In.” Several critics remarked on her ability to make seriously sophisticated jazz sound fun. Her quartet’s disciplined collaboration resulted from playing in front of very diverse audiences, especially at home. They offered audiences a testifying, polyrhythmic, and dramatically explosive brand of spiritual jazz. 2019’s album Reverence added Hammond B-3 organist Lorenç, Barcelo to excellent effect. The bubbling grooves generated by guitar and organ were employed with layers of percussion and droning basslines, updating the astral jazz of Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders and Alice Coltrane. She continued reconsidering her earlier music with this approach too. 2020’s Quiet Earth included four long compositions, two of which were substantially revisioned versions of tunes that originally appeared on the 2013 album Awakening. 2021’s Union – sans Schwarz – offered more substantially reworked versions of earlier compositions that had evolved from having been performed live for years. 2022’s Universal Code, found Schwarz rejoining the group for three tracks. Throughout the band seamlessly wed spiritual and modal modern jazz-explorations to deep, often blues-tinged, airy grooves.
Devotion, Grossmann’s debut for Jack White‘s U.S.-based Third Man Records label, continues her musical evolution, arriving at a sound that wears inspirations transparently, but in practice, is markedly original holistic work. It is titled after Grossmann’s experience of a natural sense of devotion that arose from her Buddhist meditation practice. She says, “noticing that sounds are dissolving into the vast empty space, the true nature of reality. Just as thoughts are always dissolving into the stillness of our mind, we slowly realize that the essence of our mind is clarity… This realization puts us on the opener “Absolute Truth,” spends the first two of its nearly 22 minutes with abstract slide guitar, hovering B-3 ellipses, and a pulse of softly generated, pulsing rimshots. When Grossmann enters on tenor, she is playing a hard bop vamp that resembles a late 1950s Blue Note date. Boquera lays down a supporting pattern that Milojkovic appends empathetically. The drums begin driving, as the band emerges with a circular groove that touches on rock, modal and soul jazz formalism, with advanced rhythmic syncopation. Its various stages find the saxophonist and her bandmates – particularly Milojkovic soloing with abandon, even as they reinforce a trance-inducing groove. “Calm” is introduced in quiet abstraction from guitar and organic percussion before Boquera, Milojkovic, and Grossmann assert a dynamic vamp. An edgy blues-tinged rock guitar riff prods organ and tenor sax in a slowly unfurling meditation on soulful funk. “Care” is organ-fueled soul jazz, an excellent showcase for Boquera’s advanced playing as Stamenkovic’s slippery, fluid, snare and hi-hat breaks urge him on. When Grossmann joins to solo, she moves across the R&B of her early influences, Sonny Rollins assertive, raw lyricism, and her own post bop vocabulary.
Third Man Records
1. Absolute Truth
4. Knowledge & Wisdom
5. All Heart
7. Mother of All
PRE-ORDER DEVOTION by Muriel Grossman HERE
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