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Muriel Grossman – Golden Rule

Egon’s picks for newly-recorded jazz album of the moment: Muriel Grossman – Golden Rule – limited to 400 vinyl LP copies and issued only in Estonia on the small indie RRGems Records. 2LP. 180 Gram Vinyl.

Deep, modal jazz in line with your favorites of the genre…. These are the last copies available. 

The question: What would you say defines “spiritual jazz”? A powerful experience? An evocative journey? Music that transcends all time and place? Music that touches your heart and strengthens your soul? A sound that is at once explorative and free, whilst also giving a satisfying sense of belonging? An incomprehensible cosmic energy that helps you feel grounded within an ever-changing universe? The answer: Yes. All of this and more. Above all it is a connection, with yourself, mankind, and the world around you, a kind of meditative awakening, as if to say “Ahh yes, this is it”. You can feel it. Your senses reawaken and your mind is quietly focussed. You let it all in, and breathe.

Few albums truly capture this spirit in such a consistently startling and beautiful way. This one most definitely does. Muriel Grossmann’s “Golden Rule” embraces the groundbreaking, exploratory jazz of Sun Ra and John Coltrane, gives a very respectful nod to fellow contemporaries Nat Birchall and Shabaka Hutchings, and immerses itself in a swirl of transcendental expression. Timeless and innovative, this is one mighty statement of a recording.

Born in Paris to Austrian parents, saxophonist and composer Muriel Grossmann grew up in Vienna, starting classical studies at the age of 5. When she switched to saxophone, discovering jazz at the age of 21, her musical direction changed. Although learning mostly from listening to records, Grossmann also credits German jazz pianist Joachim Kühn, with whom she later studied, as having a great impact on her musically. Her sources of inspiration are wide, including a range of jazz giants from saxophonists such as Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, to guitarists like Grant Green. It is however, the symbiosis of sounds created on this album, with Serbian guitarist Radomir Milojkovic, Austrian bassist Gina Schwarz, and Serbian drummer and percussionist Uros Stamenkovic, that closely link the music back to the works of Coltrane.

There’s an intriguing sonic palette to Grossmann’s music. As the album begins, opening with the title track, I was immediately drawn to the almost whispered sounds that move and shimmer, acting as a backdrop to the tune itself. Perhaps my musical adventures in life have been less adventurous than I thought, but this is something quite unique in the way that the sounds are sensitively and intelligently layered. It’s a little like ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response), only in a good way! (I’m not a fan). And it’s a stroke of musical genius, allowing the musicians to explore and improvise on top of the core of the tune, and the sonic landscape that lives and breathes behind that…

For those of you who enjoy your spiritual jazz, this album is an absolute must-have. Muriel Grossmann’s Quartet evoke the true beauty, sincerity and joy of Coltrane, whilst successfully musically singing out in their own voice, creating new ideas with a refreshing verve and skill. Golden Rule is quite simply an incredible album, inventive, full of character, and to my ears, a musical joy to behold.

(Review by Mike Gates in UKVIBE.ORG)