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There are many adventures in life. Some are a momentary thrill, like climbing an overhang in the Austrian Alps, which is an escapade I indulge in occasionally. Others adventures, such as composing and playing creative music, turn out to be a life-long quest.

I dedicate this CD to the spirit of adventure, the force that takes us to our edge and gives us enough boldness to try ourselves at something new. In the spirit of adventure, we do not worry about perfection or a desired outcome. We are fully present, enjoying the moment and getting to know ourselves in the process.

It is this spirit, I hope to express with my music.

The dictionary defines adventure as a daring and exciting activity, calling for enterprise and enthusiasm, or the exploration of unknown territory. There couldn’t be a better description of what music is to me. So here we are, with our instruments in our backpacks, ready for the expedition.

An Ocean Apart
After making a move to another continent, I found myself in a new country, a new city and without the love of my life. He stayed behind in New York and we lived an excruciating long-distance-relationship. This song tells the story of longing, and of outrageous phone bills. And, eventually, of a happy end with a reunion.

Central Park West salutes one of my favorite musicians, John Coltrane. It features a beautiful guitar solo by Cary DeNigris whom I’ve had the opportunity to work with in many different situations. When it came time to find the guitarist for my group, the choice was clear. Cary’s ability to color melodies, to support the soloist with his imaginative comping, and his truly original and inspired soloing can be heard throughout the recording.

I look at The Orchid in my kitchen many times throughout the day but hardly ever notice its beauty anymore, because it has become part of the interior. It sits there, looking gorgeous day after day, but I fail to appreciate its exquisiteness. The Orchid is about appreciating the little treasures in life.

Simone by Frank Foster is a fun tune to blow on, a minor blues with a few quirky twists and turns, arranged by Drori Mondlak. Drori is one of the most spontaneous and creative improvisers I know. He shapes each tune so masterfully and gives his heart and soul to the music. His playing is powerful, yet subtle. His dedication to his art is an inspiration to me.

I used to think that one was either blessed with creativity or not, that inspiration either strikes or it doesn’t. But I’ve learned that if I want to be creative, I had to sit down and start working on a phrase or a melody. Only then, ideas will start to creep in. Creativity is a process which requires dedication, diligence and perseverance. It’s all about Showing Up. Only then, can the adventures really begin.

Three Stories (It Is What It Is, Nothing Left To Do, Something New) is improvised spontaneously in duo with bassist Steve LaSpina. At the end of a long day in the recording studio, I wanted to just play and see what might happen. Without a word of preparation, we connected so well, I could have kept playing all night. Steve plays with incredible conviction, and he always lifts the music to new heights.

Isfahan: Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington wrote this tune, inspired by a daredevil State Department tour in 1964 that led them to the Far East. “The tour was a great adventure for us on what is indeed the other side of the world,” Duke Ellington wrote in Musical Journal (“Orientations”). Coming full circle from the opening tune “Adventures,” this seemed to be the perfect way to conclude our expedition, and an appropriate starting point to begin planning the next. I can’t wait.


released October 1, 2008

Karolina Strassmayer (alto saxophone)
Drori Mondlak (drums)
Cary DeNigris (guitar)
Steve LaSpina (bass)



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Karolina Strassmayer & Drori Mondlak - KLARO! Köln, Germany

Performing their original compositions, KLARO! blends the romanticism of European classical and folk music and fuses it with the rhythmic fire and swing of the American jazz tradition together with the harmonic sophistication of contemporary improvised music.

The group is co-led by two critically acclaimed international artists - alto saxophonist KAROLINA STRASSMAYER, and drummer Drori Mondlak.
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