Frank Gratkowski - Fred Van Hove - Tony Oxley: GRATHOVOX (2002)
Recorded in Germany, these improvisational giants align their very special talents for what may appear to be a most unusual yet largely gratifying set. The trio commences with an open-ended sequence of interlacing movements on “Tartar.” As the musicians explore microtonal sounds and subliminally constructed mini-themes. Drummer/percussionist Tony Oxley uses his darkly hued cymbals for accents, while pianist Fred Van Hove and multi-reedman Frank Gratkowski implement parallel tonalities. The band occasionally veers off into circularly devised motifs amid manically developed discourses – where they emit a rather otherworldly and somewhat unclassifiable approach. Otherwise, the chamber-like sonic attributes of this disc elicit notions of three symphonic players, intentionally straying off course. Each piece stands on its own, as the trio also discombobulates most semblances of rhythm.
On “Witchy,” Van Hove plays the accordion atop Oxley’s rumbling tom fills and staggered beats. At times, this contrasting element presents a farcical characteristic that proves to be an asset to the ensemble’s sound and scope. With this release, the artists slam the lid on any preconceived expectations. (Recommended)
Track Listing: 1.Tartar 2.Carrousel 3.Tiddledit 4.Batons Rompus 5.Foreplay/Vorspiel 6.Witchy 7.Trenches/Tranches 8.Final Bounce
Personnel: Frank Gratkowski: alto saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet and contrabass clarinet