Karolina Strassmayer & Drori Mondlak—Klaro!, Of Mystery and Beauty (Lilypad)
From the drama of the album’s opening cymbal splashes to the fading piano notes at its end, alto saxophonist and flutist Strassmayer and drummer Mondlak reaffirm their mastery of small group music that is as notable for strength as for intimacy. Of Mystery and Beauty is, if anything, even more compelling than their 2013 Small Moments. In no small part that is because of the support of the undersung American bassist John Goldsby and the young veteran German pianist Ranier Böhm. Strassmayer has absorbed, internalized and personalized what John Coltrane gave to jazz and often evokes him purely on the power of her tone and inflection. The subtlety of Mondlak’s drumming is epitomized in his unaccompanied feature “Cascades.” Pauses and silences are among the attributes of that four-minute work of the imagination, made all the more effective by Mondlak’s upwellings of contrasting intensity. Strassmayer’s closing duet with Böhm, “Still In Her Ears,” is notable for her emotional range and the purity of her flute sound.
To see video of the session and hear the musicians talk about their music, go here.