The music on saxophonist Muriel Grossmann's Union is very familiar. Is that because all the compositions had been previously released? Not at all. Actually, the versions heard here are more vibrant than their first incarnations. Chalk that up to Grossman and company working and reworking these compositions in performances. The band's familiarity with the material blossoms into a stellar recording. That said, the session may not have happened. The band's long-time bassist Gina Schwarz was not available for this recording date. Grossman's quartet adapted. Fortunately when you tour with Llorenc Barcelo, a Hammond B3 master, the bass-lines can be a serviceable add-on. Maybe this different perspective acted as the spark for the musicians to focus and deliver this special recording.
The recording opens with "Happiness," one of two tracks that appeared on Natural Time (Dreamland Records, 2016), the other being "African Dance." "Happiness" is a meditative slow boiler with Grossman's tenor saxophone floating about the groove laid down by Barceló and drummer Uros Stamenkovic. When guitarist Radomir Milojkovic solos, it is in a style reminiscent of vintage George Benson with Lonnie Smith and Jack McDuff. But vintage is a misnomer. Grossman's "Traneing In," a nod to John Coltrane, mixes the flavors of Coltrane's "India" with an up-tempo country feel with her soprano saxophone and Milojkovic's guitar dancing over a shuffling pulse. "Sundown" and "Union" were previously heard on Reverence (RR Gems/Dreamland, 2019). Both pieces are spiritually filling, the sounds that make you understand music's higher calling. Grossman knows her Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, and Joseph Jarman and she embodies their spirit, especially the meditative side. From introspective to exuberant, "African Dance" is an irresistible piece that invites you to get up and shake your rump. Union is available as a download, CD, or as a limited edition 200 gram vinyl release.
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