Karolina Strassmayer & Drori Mondlak KLARO!

“KLARO! is one of the most interesting small groups at work today.” Doug Ramsey

KLARO! [‘klaroʊ] (adj., dial, Ger.; 1. clear, lucid, obvious 2. right, true, real) started in Karolina’s youth as a play on words with her nickname “Karo.” “Ever since I was a child, ‘Klaro-Karo’ was a word of encouragement used by family and friends. So it was only natural to name my band after it—simply KLARO!”

This compelling quartet is a close collaboration between Austrian alto saxophonist Karolina Strassmayer and her long-time musical partner, New York drummer Drori Mondlak. These two very distinct musical personalities have merged their musical visions into one.

Performing Strassmayer’s original compositions, KLARO! fuses the romanticism of European classical and folk music with the rhythmic fire and swing of American jazz and the harmonic sophistication of contemporary improvised music.

Strassmayer and Mondlak say: “We believe in the strength of our music to communicate the essential—from the heart and soul. We always strive to deepen our connection with our audiences and the present moment. This brings a strong sense of purpose and great joy.”

Karolina Strassmayer – alto saxophone

Strassmayer was voted among the Top Five alto saxophonists in Downbeat Magazine Reader’s Poll and carries the distinction of being the first female member of the Grammy Award winning WDR Big Band Cologne.

Strassmayer garnered a stellar reputation on the New York jazz scene during her tenure of over 15 years.

She has performed with McCoy Tyner, Joe Zawinul, Joe Lovano, Chris Potter, John Scofield, Mike Abene, Vince Mendoza and many other jazz greats and has been called “one of the most interesting alto saxophonists of her generation” (Doug Ramsey), “a player with great emotional depth” (Washington Post), and “exuberant and gritty…instantly engaging” (JAZZIZ). 


Drori Mondlak – drums

drori2_300Mondlak is one of the outstanding jazz drummers and band leaders on today’s international jazz scene. His touch, subtlety, and interactive approach to music have brought him critical acclaim and performing opportunities with many creative artists.

In his eclectic work in New York City for over twenty years Drori has played with jazz luminaries such as Frank Foster, Joe Williams, Don Friedman, Lynn Seaton, Danny Mixon, Ron McClure, Chris Potter, Lew Tabackin, Ernestine Anderson, and many more.

In Europe he has performed and recorded with artists such as Lee Konitz, Barbara Dennerlein, Sonny Fortune, Lynne Ariale, Stefan Bauer, Chico Freeman, Cary DeNigris, Tony Lakatos, Nicolas Simion, and David Friedman.

“The precision, speed and reserved strength of Mondlak’s drumming are reminiscent of Joe Morello in his early years with Dave Brubeck.”

Doug Ramsey – Rifftides


Creative instrumentalists and long-time musical partners join Karolina and Drori:

Stefan Bauer — vibraphone

Bauer is internationally regarded as a dynamic and flexible improvisor who moves within a wide spectrum between mainstream and avantgarde.

Bauer’s encounters with musicians everywhere remain a source of great inspiration. Over a period of more than three decades Bauer had opportunities to play and record with and learn from many musicians in Europe, Africa, India and in North-America. His credentials as a composer include more than a 100 pieces, seven CDs as a leader  as well as music for a TV show in Germany. In 1990 he received a jazz-compositions prize from Monaco, the cultural award of the city of Dortmund, Germany, and was nominated for a JUNO Award.

A project with the WDR Big Band gave the initial impetus for KLARO’s! collaboration that developed into a close musical friendship. During a successful engagement at Jazz@Lincoln Center  the group’s chemistry flourished.


Josh Ginsburg — bass

Bassist Josh Ginsburg is a regular fixture on the world’s concert stages and jazz clubs. His music has been described as “vigorously fresh” (Irish Times) and “reveal(ing) itself in gradually unfolding layers” (JazzTimes).

He has been performing wit Kurt Rosenwinkel, Greg Osby, Tom Harrell, Mulgrew Miller, Mark Turner, Robert Glasper, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Gregory Hutchinson, Ambrose Akinmusire, and Aaron Parks.

Josh was born in Baltimore, Maryland, where he absorbed some of that city’s musical roots. “I think there was a rhythmic intensity that I learned in Baltimore from the very beginning, as well as a deep love of the jazz tradition.“ Josh went on to study with jazz trailblazer Jackie McLean: ”From Mr. McLean I learned the value and beauty of melody and lyricism. But even more importantly through him, and through the many great musicians I have worked with over the years, I began to see what I value the most in all my musical experiences, the open-hearted spirit of a true improvisor.”



rainer-thumbRainer Böhm – piano

Rainer Böhm was nominated for the Echo Jazz Prize in 2015 for Instrumentalist of the Year. From 2007 to 2009, he completed a master’s degree at Queens College in New York City. He has performed and recorded with saxophonist Lutz Häfner and bassist Dieter Ilg. He has also appeared with Johannes Enders, Rolf Kühn, Albert Mangelsdorff and Randy Brecker.

Böhm’s inspired playing and lyricism are a great addition to KLARO! and can be heard on the new CD Of Mystery And Beauty.

David Friedman – vibraphone

friedman-thumbDavid Friedman is one of the most influential vibraphonists, composers and jazz educators in the world. He has performed with Leonard Bernstein, Bobby McFerrin, Wayne Shorter, Joe Henderson, Horace Silver and Ron Carter. He was recently awarded the lifetime achievement award by the Percussive Arts Society.

Friedman is a masterful vibraphonist and a musician with heart and soul.


Thomas Stabenow – Bass

The renowned bassist Thomas Stabenow is a veteran of the German jazz scene and has performed with international jazz greats such as Johnny Griffin, Charlie Rouse, Lee Konitz, Mel Lewis, Kenny Wheeler, Billy Cobham, Cedar Walton and Stan Getz.