Reviews that mention Alexandra Grimal

October 21, 2020

Alexandra Grimal

the monkey in the abstract garden
Ovni OVB 0003

Julius Gabriel


Creative Sources CS 637 CD

Yves Charuest

Le Territoire de l’Anche

Small Scale Music SSM 022

Marco Colonna


Naifunken nfk 007

Ben Bertrand


Stroom/Les albums claus STRLP-038/LAC015

Something in the Air: Sophisticated Solo Reed Sessions Score with Surprises

By Ken Waxman

Once a rite of passage, solo outings for reed players have now become almost as commonplace in improvised music as jazz piano trio discs. At the same time, figuratively performing musically naked like that involves more than desire and technical skill. Cerebral planning as well as deciding which horn(s) to use plus the suitability of the location’s acoustics are necessary as well. These new discs demonstrate how international reed players deal with the challenges. MORE

December 29, 2019

Alexandra Grimal/Joëlle Léandre

Montagne Noire MN1

Christine Abdelnour/Louis Schild

La Louve

Wide Ear WER 041

Stripped down to essentials, these saxophone-double bass duos explore the variety of sounds that can be creatively sourced from the two instruments. But while there may be physical similarities each chooses a unique improvisational path.

French alto saxophonist Christine Abdelnour and Swiss electric bassist Louis Schild transform their instruments into non-specific sound sources, dedicating La Louve’s single track to a knowing analysis of timbres and dissonance. Meantime Désordre comes across like more of play-party activity or perhaps a Gallic version of Inuit throat singing. Bassist Joëlle Léandre and tenor saxophonist Alexandra Grimal, both French, have 15 tracks in which to challenge and compel on another with distinct creations. Considering the two also try out a bit of serious-and-non serious vocalizing, mostly without words, on a few of the 15 tracks, a sense of merriment also distinguishes this session from other discs that are overtly serious. MORE

August 11, 2019

Météo Mulhouse Music Festival

August 27-31, 2019
Mulhouse, France

By Ken Waxman

Photos by Susan O'Connor

Having reached its 37th year without compromising its goal of presenting mature improvisers alongside younger musicians with newer concepts, the Météo Music Festival maintained that tradition throughout this year’s festival in late August. Creating an atmosphere where 21-year-old local drumming phenom Gaspard Beck is as welcomed and treated with the same respect as British saxophonist Evan Parker, 74, one of the pioneers of Free Music, confirms this. High quality sounds of all sorts were presented throughout the Mulhouse, France festival’s five days, with French performers featured along with those from Scandinavia, Asia, central Europe, North America, and pre-Brexit United Kingdom. MORE

December 2, 2018

Hans Lüdemann Trans Europe Express

BMC CD 240

Even more assured in its newest recorded effort, the appropriately named eight-piece Trans Europe Express (TEE) has become a confident, vigorous and multi-faceted ensemble as it evolves. Part of the reason is the freedom in composition and improvisation encouraged by the leader, German pianist Hans Lüdemann. Case in point: Of Polyjazz’s 10 tracks, four were composed by the pianist; two were composed by French bassist Sébastien Boisseau; one by French violinist Théo Ceccaldi; one by French trombonist Yves Robert; one by German drummer Dejan Terzic and one by German saxophonist Silke Eberhard. The other two members are French saxophonist Alexandra Grimal and Finnish guitarist Kalle Kalima. MORE

October 16, 2016

Joëlle Léandre 10

Can You Hear Me?
Ayler Records AYLCD-146

Never content to stand still – often literally – French double bassist Joëlle Léandre’s music can be likened to the epistemological studies of pre-modern scientists. From her beginnings she didn’t feel that mastery of any one discipline meant she had to abjure from others. She demonstrated that by sidestepping from interpreting scores to improvising. During almost four decades she has usually expressed her skills in smaller ensembles. Now with Can You Hear Me she has turned to a large scale composition, played by a 10-piece orchestra. MORE

March 12, 2016

Théo Ceccaldi’s Quartet

Théo Ceccaldi’s Quartet Petit Moutarde
ONJazz JP-001

Christian Lillinger


Pirouet PIT 3086

Die Hochstapler

Plays the music of Alvin R. Buckley

Umlaut ub007


Green Light

MultiKulti MPTO 12


Live at La Resistenza

El Negocito Records eNR041

Something in the Air: Young Blood Still Pumps in Jazz

By Ken Waxman

Child prodigies really don’t exist in improvised music. Occasionally there may be some youngster known for jazz playing. But unlike other musics which depend on a performer having a cute image or being able to copy what’s on the score paper, improvising demands full exposure of an inner self. Lacking maturity the majority of these tyros soon disappear. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t young improvising musicians. But to create notable works, like the skills of exceptional actors or visual artists, true musical talent is almost always refined during the player’s twenties or thirties. MORE

November 6, 2015

Giving birth to sound: women in creative music

Renate Da Rin, William Parker (editors)
Buddy Knife Publications

By Ken Waxman

When six-year-old piano student Alexandra Grimal wrote her first composition, her teacher refused to believe her, angrily insisting her older brother must have written it. Now a saxophonist, Grimal had a similar experience when she was 13 and premiered her first jazz piece for a friend’s mother. That woman too refused to believe it was original.

Anecdotes such as these in part illustrate the difficulty women have being accepted as serious composers and performers – even in so-called creative music. Giving birth to sound examines these circumstances through the first-person experiences of 48 musicians. Residing in Europe or the United States, the respondents are involved with improvised, notated, electronic and world music and remarkably candid about their musical lives. Still the volume is neither academic study nor practical hand book. The interviewees answered 20 questions and their replies are printed without comment. However, since the queries are as pointed “has being a women held you back in the development of your musical career” and “do you think you paid a price being an artist” or as broad as “what is magic” the worth of each entry varies. Some are direct and to-the-point; others lapse into generalities; a couple even detour into fables. Typos and imprecise language are left unchanged. Plus printing paragraphs in various colors and using an assortment of type sizes and styles for emphasis often irritates rather than illuminates. MORE

November 1, 2015

Benjamin Duboc/Alexandra Grimal

Le Retour d’Ulysse (Promenade)
Improvising Beings ib 32


This is Not Art

Clean Feed CF 334 CD

Pop music may deal in fads and fantasies when it come to universal accolades directed towards one player’s talent; another one will supplant him or her soon enough. Reputations in creative music on the other hand arise from a durable mix of talent and adaptability substantiated in many situations. That’s likely why for the past half-decade or so, when it comes to Free Jazz in France, Paris’ Benjamin Duboc has become the go-to double bassist of choice. Like Paul Chambers or Ron Carter in the 1950s and 1960s or William Parker in New York today, Duboc is a sympathetic accompanist, as he has proven in sessions featuring dissimilar stylists such as pianist Eve Risser, saxophonist Daunik Lazro or trumpeter Itaru Oki. Meanwhile he is always ready to express his own perceptions solo or in various-sized formations. MORE

February 26, 2015

Alexandra Grimal/Giovanni di Domenico

Ayler Records CD 141/142

A far cry from their usual interaction in other contexts, Chergui is the second collection of chamber-improvisations by the duo of French saxophonist Alexandra Grimal and Brussels-based pianist Giovanni di Domenico. Over the course of 20 tracks, six of which are indicatively titled “koans”, singly or together the two explore their instrument’s meditative properties. At times skirting awfully close to New Age territory, the challenge they have set themselves is to expose enough raw improvisation in their playing so that the surrounding fragile lines don’t figuratively blow away. Those familiar with the staccato keyboard dynamics the pianist brings to his discs with Japanese Free Jazz master, saxophonist Akira Sakata; or the aggressively controlled solos the soprano and alto saxophonist contributes to France’s Orchestra National du Jazz may wonder if they picked up the wrong disc MORE

February 11, 2015

Orchestre National de Jazz

Europa Paris
On Jazz Records 24444

Taking France’s prestigious Orchestre National de Jazz (ONJ) in a new direction, plus dealing with a complete change in personnel, is the ONJ’s new artistic director, composer and guitarist Olivier Benoit. Know for experimental small group work as well as writing for and sometimes playing as part of large ensembles such as La Pieuvre and Circum Grand Orchestra, Benoit is certainly no one to pursue a course of reinterpreting so-called Jazz classics. This sprawling six-part, two-CD magnum opus demonstrates this handily. Ambitious, Europa Paris is designed to paint a sonic portrait of the city of light via the solo and interactive skills of the 11-mmber ensemble. MORE

August 1, 2014

Festival Report

Jazzdor-Strasbourg-Berlin 2014
By Ken Waxman

The KulturBrauerei’s music space Kesselhaus in East Berlin was a fitting site for the eighth annual Jazzdor-Strasbourg-Berlin (JSB) festival June 3-6. With jazz and improvised music’s universality now a given, a festival presenting mostly French jazz taking place in what had been one of Berlin’s oldest breweries, now repurposed from industrial to artistic use, doesn’t seem that much of a stretch.

Overall its all-inclusive musical theme was confirmed by the programming of JSB’s artistic director Philippe Ochem and his team, which already host Strasbourg’s annual Jazzdor festival. Over four nights, JSB presented musician from different parts of Germany, Belgium and the US plus proudly delineated Basque and Corsican players, all of whom worked with improvisers from France’s major musical centres. MORE

July 17, 2014


La Jungle du Douquanier Rousseau
Improvising Beings IB 24

Foussat, Guérineau & McPhee


Fou Records FR-CD 05

All types of creative music are populated with unsung heroes, no more so than Free Jazz. Never a popular exercise, experimental improvising by definition has attracted those who value discovery over fortune and fame and are unafraid to be mocked for not taking easier, better-paying path. Someone who is gifted with enough intestinal fortitude to stay true to himself is tenor saxophonist Sylvain Guérineau, 67, who lives in a Paris suburb and is also a painter and teacher. Someone whose initial recorded efforts were in the company of Free Jazz legends such as drummer Sunny Murray, trumpeter Jac Berrocal and others, since the millennium he’s often recorded with Paris-based engineers/electronics whiz Jean-Marc Foussat as well, as with younger sound experimenters such as Bordeaux percussionist Didier Lasserre. MORE