Klaro! is one of the most impressive debuts I've ever heard. Just that side of 30, Karolina Strassmayer is not only a fantastic player on alto, soprano and flute, but an exceptional composer with depth and flair. She's assembled a crackling band for her entrance, and they do justice to her nine originals: burners, ballads, and blues, with hints of Latin, Brazilian and Middle Eastern influences and a sparkle of wit. The CD opens with the sizzling "Sweeper", featuring exuberant brushwork by the superb Drori Mondlak and a fiery solo by the excellent Ray Vega. Strassmayer doesn't start wailing until several choruses in, but when she does it's a revelation. Where has she been?? Fortunately, she found her way from her tiny Alpine village to the NYC jazz scene, where she's been making considerable waves, as evidenced by the top-level horns who are guesting on her first releae. Initially inspired by Cannonball Adderly, and later by the sax pantheon from Bird and Phil Woods to both Sonnys (Stitt and Rollins), Strassmayer's writing resembles that of Wayne Shorter and Bill Evans in her preference for simple, bveautiful melodies over intricate harmonies and tempos. Highlights are tough to isolate but include the gorgeous "Ginger's Theme", the shifting moods of "Don't Wait...", the joyful trades among Strassmayer, Vega, and the ever-enjoyable Wycliffe Gordon on the infectious "Bus Bugaloo", and the funky "Grimy Grin", with its extended, grin-inducing Gordon solo. On alto, Strassmayer is strong, fluid and distinctive; on flute - in duet with John DiMartino's elegant piano on the lovely "More Than You Say", she's cool and soothing; on the rocking "Drori's Dilemma", her soprano tone is as warm and rounded as an oboe's. Strassmayer has great passion, taste, and talent, and this is a brilliant beginning. Highly recommended, Klaro! is available at www.klaromusic.com.
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AllMusic Review by Judith Schlesinger