Karolina Strassmayer & Drori Mondlak-Klaro! Create Jazz 'Of Mystery And Beauty' [REVIEW]

By Mike Greenblatt on Mar 15, 2016 03:34 PM EDT
'Of Mystery And Beauty' cover Karolina Strassmayer & Drori Mondlak (Photo : Helge Strauss)

There's plenty of both in this aptly-named project: Of Mystery And Beauty (Lilypad Music) by Karolina Strassmayer & Drori Mondlak-Klaro! It has a rather unique sound. But, then again, this quartet really came into its own starting on its fifth (2011's Joining Forces) and sixth (2013's Small Moments) CDs. It has experienced the kind of upward trajectory that only international acclaim can garner.

Austrian alto saxophonist Karolina Strassmayer has already performed with greats like Joe Lovano, McCoy Tyner and Weather Report's Joe Zawinal . Now she's set on becoming one. She plucked bassist John Goldsby right out of the WDR Big Band in Cologne, Germany where they both played. He also spent 14 years (1980 to 1994) in New York City as a bandleader, composer, teach, clinician and author.

Drori Mondlak is also an NYC bandleader, and has drummed for vocalist Big Joe Williams, but in Europe has played with a wide variety of stars including Sonny Fortune and Lee Konitz.

Pianist Rainer Bohm, another leader in Germany, comes equipped with a Master's Degree from Queens College in New York and has played with Randy Brecker. He replaces vibraphonist Stefan Bauer as seen in the imbedded video.

Together, these four make a mellifluous sound, mysterious and beautiful, indeed. When Strassmayer closes out this meditative 11-track experiment on flute, it sounds like she's flying through the air, totally baffling science. Even Mondlak's long mid-stream drum solo is, well, sensual. When was the last time you heard a drum solo be called sensual?

Klaro! has the kind of European folk-song and classical panache that Euro audiences eat up. The only question is whether American audiences will feel the same way. With four distinct individualistic personalized styles that meander over, under and through highlights like "Fanfare From Another World" (spooky), "Postcard From A Quiet Place" (resigned) and "Gently Spoke The Mermaid" (fantastical), the reoccurring sound of Strassmayer's alto is the one tone you will long remember after the CD turns to silence. It's the kind of alto that plays peek-a-boo and then all-out hide-and-seek with Bohm's piano, inquisitive...darting...and, ultimately, memorable.

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TagsKarolina Strassmayer, REVIEW, Drori Mondlak, Lilypad Music

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