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Young sax player takes Eugene stage.

Byline: FRED CRAFTS The Register-Guard

FORGET THAT jazz saxophonist Karolina Strassmayer grew up in a little village in the Austrian Alps. Swing Shift director Jim Olsen says she can flat out play.

Olsen heard her perform at the 2001 Irvine (Calif.) West Coast Jazz party and was blown away.

"She just came out and knocked everyone's socks off," he says. "She was on a stage with people who were very well known (Phil Woods, Bobby Shew, Gary Foster, Ken Peplowski), and she was more than holding her own with them. She's a very mature player."

As a result, Olsen invited her to perform with his big band at a concert at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 22 at the South Eugene High School Auditorium.

"She's a very special player," he says.

A Cannonball Adderly recording attracted Strassmayer the alto saxophone.

"You can definitely hear quite a bit of Cannonball in her playing," Olsen says. "Mostly phrasing. Articulation. Not so much the lines but just the way she attacks notes is very much like Cannonball."

However, Olsen notes that Strassmayer has her own sound: "Her's is a little more lyrical than Cannonball's. He was capable of being lyrical but that's not where his sound went a lot of the time."

Strassmayer earned a master's degree in jazz performance from the Musikhochschule in Graz, Austria, and graduated from the prestigious Mannes/ New School jazz studies program in New York City.

Still living in New York City, Strassmayer performs with the top Latin and jazz musicians. Her credits include lead alto saxophonist with Diva Big Band. She's been a featured player with Five Play, Scott Whitfield Jazz Orchestra, New York Pops Orchestra, Chico O'Farrill and Michael Mossman's NYC Latin Jazz Orchestra.

She also performs with the Duke Ellington Orchestra and Diane Schuur.

With Swing Shift, she will play such tunes as "Adios Mario," "The Troubadours," "Three Shades of Blue," "Manteca," "A Beautiful Love" and "If I Should Leave You."

On Nov. 22, she also will perform with the award-winning South Eugene High School Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Ron Black.

Olsen says Strassmayer has a bright future.

"She's just starting to get a reputation now,' he says. "She's in the level where she's working a lot. A lot of sideman things.

`She doesn't have a name as a leader yet, but that's the next step. She's got a CD she's about to put out that was recorded in September. She needs one high-profile job as a sideman now to make that next step.

"But as a player, she's as good a saxophone player as you'll want to hear. If you can stand on the stage with Phil Woods and not just give up the horn, then you're a good player."


WHAT: Big band jazz

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22

WHERE: South Eugene High School Auditorium, 400 E. 19th Ave

HOW MUCH: $8 for students, $10 general admission; through Cat's Meow Jazz & Blues, 122 E. Broadway; Pacific Winds Music, 791 W. Eighth Ave.; the high school box office and from Swing Shift band members



Austrian saxophonist Karolina Strassmayer will take the stage with Eugene's Swing Shift at South Eugene High School next Friday. Austrian horn
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Title Annotation:Entertainment
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Nov 15, 2002
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