Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » Drori Mondlak and Karolina Strassmayer: Freescapes

4

Drori Mondlak and Karolina Strassmayer: Freescapes

By

Sign in to view read count
Drori Mondlak and Karolina Strassmayer: Freescapes
During twenty plus years of collaboration, drummer Drori Mondlak and saxophonist / flutist Karolina Strassmayer have perfected their creative chemistry. Their highly individual styles are, nevertheless, seamlessly complementary resulting in a unique sound that marks their superb releases. Their eighth, the haunting Freescapes, is an absorbing work with an undercurrent of subtle mysticism that showcases this synergy and splendid musicianship on nine interlinked tracks.

Opening with "Sing To Me Of..,," a duet between the co-leaders, and closing with Mondlak's unaccompanied "Octopus Dance," the album maintains a sublime balance of tense mood and raw spirituality. The former tune is eastern flavored and features Strassmayer's meditative alto saxophone meandering within Mondlak's resonant, atmospheric percussion. The result is hauntingly solemn. On the latter Mondlak thrills with his overlapping, agile beats and breathtaking acrobatics that are elegantly reserved and never showy.

Similarly Zen like ambience permeates the angular "Sticks and Flurries." Pianist Rainer Böhm bounces his shimmering arpeggios off of Mondlak's intricate, crystalline rhythmic patterns. Strassmayer, switching to flute, forges a serpentine pattern within these intriguing, labyrinthine refrains. The quartet flirts delightfully with dissonance.

Bassist Thomas Stabenow starts off the lyrical "Aahhh!" with a folkish, melancholic solo. The ensemble exchanges are poetic and ethereal, endowing the group play with an incisive and primal asceticism. Strassmayer burns through the hypnotic vamps with intelligence and passion while Böhm mirrors her ardor with an inventive and eloquent improvisation.

In contrast, the soulful "Courage" incorporates bluesy fragments in both the collective performance as well as the individual extemporizations. Strassmayer's undulating, warm phrases coalesce into a fiery soliloquy while Böhm's cascading keys embellish the core melody with suave swagger. Mondlak's rolling drums and rustling cymbals and Stabenow's reverberating lines keep this expressive piece simmering with anticipation

Freescapes is a captivating recording of sophisticated spontaneity. Its theme is simultaneously personal and universal and the music is both innovative and accessible. It is easily Mondlak and Strassmayer's best effort to date.

Track Listing

Sing To Me Of...; Mallets And Air; Sticks And Flurries; Brushes Dancing; Courage; Hands And Feet Talking; Aahhh!; Both Held And Free; Octopus Dance.

Personnel

Karolina Strassmayer
saxophone, alto
Thomas Stabenow
bass, acoustic

Album information

Title: Freescapes | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Lilypad Music

Comments


For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

Tags

More

Open Me: A Higher Consciousness of Sound and...
Kahil El'Zabar's Ethnic Heritage Ensemble
Modern Art Trio
Franco D'Andrea, Franco Tonani, Bruno Tommaso.
Chicken Shit Bingo
Brötzmann / Nilssen-Love

Popular

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.