1

Karolina Strassmayer and Drori Mondlak: Of Mystery and Beauty

Hrayr Attarian By

Sign in to view read count
Karolina Strassmayer and Drori Mondlak: Of Mystery and Beauty Over the past decade and a half Austrian saxophonist Karolina Strassmayer has established herself as a superbly consummate musician. Her multifaceted compositions are always subtly, engagingly inventive and brim with brilliant wit and lyricism. As an improviser she plays with a reserved intensity and a captivating and suave spontaneity. Her seventh release Of Mystery and Beauty showcases again her unique style that has matured and ripened without losing any of its vibrant energy.

Like all of Strassmayer's previous albums this one is also in collaboration with American drummer Drori Mondlak. An undisputed master percussionist Mondlak, with his virtuosity and bold, explorative spirit, is the indispensible driving force behind the pair's music. Case in point; his unaccompanied solo "Cascades" is breathtakingly spirited and unexpectedly tuneful.

Together with their quartet Klaro! Strassmayer and Mondlak interpret the ten originals with a sublime mix of magical ethereality and visceral earthiness. The title track for instance opens with bassist John Goldsby's contemplative reverberating strings. Pianist Rainer Böhm's resonant chiming keys and Mondlak's softly propulsive beats create an expectant ambience for Strassmayer's yearning poetry. Heavily tinged with mysticism. Strassmayer lets loose intricate meandering alto lines that build an intriguing and passionate melody. After Böhm's shimmering, incandescent deluge of notes tense sonic fragments usher in the darkly hued conclusion.

The dramatic and provocative "Four Us All" has an otherworldly mood and lilting cadence. Mondlak's primal rumble and rustling sticks together with Goldsby's thumping vamps and Böhm's sparse, haunting chords form a loose and angular rhythmic framework. Strassmayer fills this gripping harmonic shell with her free flowing and open-ended extemporization making the piece one of the most innovative on the record.

Elsewhere on the funky and emotive "Side by Side" Strassmayer's blues-drenched saxophone dances seductively and with muscular phrases around the main theme. Böhm's buoyant piano echoes and expands on the altoist's mordant and acerbic tones and stirring wail.

The vigorous "Fanfare From Another World," meanwhile, features Böhm's lithe pianism. His breathtaking acrobatics are equal parts technical prowess and elegant artistry. Strassmayer blows with fiery gusto the bubbling head over her band-mates hard swinging refrains. Mondlak bisects the tune with his thunderous thumps and complex, overlapping polyrhythms.

This captivating record closes with the hypnotic and gorgeous ballad "Still In Her Ears." This Strassmayer and Böhm duet spotlights the former's thick breathy flute as it undulates gracefully over the latter's introspective and classically influenced performance.

Simultaneously unconventional and accessible Of Mystery and Beauty is an imaginative work. With charm and intelligence it eschews both abstruseness and banality. It engrosses with its diversity yet remains conceptually cohesive. It stimulates and moves with its ingenious complexity and fascinating fluidity. In short it is, to date, Strassmayer and Mondlak's finest disc and one that surely will stand the test of time.

Track Listing: From Her Pale Blue Home; Of Mystery and Beauty; Postcard From a Quiet Place; Fanfare From Another World; Wandering; Gently Spoke The Mermaid; Four Us All; Of Space And Rest; Side To Side; Cascades; Still In Her Ears.

Personnel: Karolina Strassmayer: alto saxophone, flute; Drori Mondlak: drums; John Goldsby: bass; Rainer Böhm: piano.

Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: BR Klassik


Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read Petite Afrique CD/LP/Track Review Petite Afrique
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 29, 2017
Read Organ Monk, The Breathe Suite CD/LP/Track Review Organ Monk, The Breathe Suite
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 29, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 29, 2017
Read Soul Garden CD/LP/Track Review Soul Garden
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 29, 2017
Read The Authorized Bang Collection CD/LP/Track Review The Authorized Bang Collection
by Doug Collette
Published: April 29, 2017
Read Cross My Palm With Silver CD/LP/Track Review Cross My Palm With Silver
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 28, 2017
Read "One For Marian: Celebrating Marian McPartland" CD/LP/Track Review One For Marian: Celebrating Marian McPartland
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 5, 2016
Read "Satori" CD/LP/Track Review Satori
by Roger Farbey
Published: March 7, 2017
Read "Natural Language" CD/LP/Track Review Natural Language
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: September 2, 2016
Read "Swivel" CD/LP/Track Review Swivel
by Mark Corroto
Published: October 16, 2016
Read "Plays The Music Of Alvin P. Buckley" CD/LP/Track Review Plays The Music Of Alvin P. Buckley
by Mark Corroto
Published: May 16, 2016
Read "Better Left Unsung" CD/LP/Track Review Better Left Unsung
by Doug Collette
Published: December 10, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!