Muriel Grossmann

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Muriel Grossmann is a saxophonist originally from Vienna, Austria, but now she lives in Spain, and she puts out roughly an album a year entirely independently, though she licenses them to a label for the vinyl editions, which she talks about in this interview. She was very open about the business side of being an independent musician, in terms of self-funding and having the discipline and mental fortitude to keep on pushing until you find the audience that’s waiting to hear your music.

Muriel plays spiritual jazz, long flowing tunes that may remind you of Alice Coltrane or Pharoah Sanders – I hear things that remind me of early 70s Joe Henderson or Azar Lawrence records too, and sometimes when she adds harp and droning elements from tamboura and other instruments, it reminds me of Illuminations, the album Carlos Santana made with Alice Coltrane, or even Larry Young’s Lawrence of Newark. What’s most fascinating about her music, though, is the degree to which she uses the studio as an instrument, adding layers upon layers of percussion and drone and ornamentation so it’s not just four or five musicians, it sounds almost orchestral at times. We talk about that a lot too, as well as the whole definition of the phrase spiritual jazz, which you see thrown around a lot without ever really pinning down what it means, or how you would define it in terms of a set of rhythms or a particular instrumental palette or whatever – it’s just kind of a know it when you hear it sort of thing.

Anyway, this was a very interesting conversation from my perspective, as I’ve only recently become a fan of Muriel’s but now I’m deep into her catalog, almost all of which is available on Bandcamp, so by all means check it out after you’re done listening to this interview. And if you enjoy this podcast, please consider visiting and becoming a subscriber. For just $5 a month, you can help keep this show and Burning Ambulance as a whole active and thriving. Thanks!

Music heard in this episode:

Muriel Grossmann, “Wien” (Quiet Earth)

Muriel Grossmann, “Wisdom” (Earth Tones)