Frank Gratkowski Quartet: Le Vent et la Gorge (2013)
The quartet seamlessly bridges modern classical with the avant-garde jazz strata from a structural and improvisational platform. It also engages in some fun and frolic. At times, the leader swashes a path of destruction via boisterous sax choruses, but uncannily conveys a hidden beauty of sorts while doing so. When dishing out off-center rhythms, the band also executes fractured jazz-funk vamps amid Wierbos' ravaging solo spots. Add a few rather bewildering microtonal exercises and the set is literally a wide-ranging study in disparate contrasts and accentuates the musicians' cunning interactions.
The seventeen-minute "Le Vent et la Gorge" is a mind-boggling incursion, where the quartet imparts a nip and tuck pulse and enacts a tightrope-like balancing act as a suspenseful aura hovers above the proceedings. Here, Gratkowski's eerie sax overtones offset the alternating momentum. However, the group switches gears as Hemingway's dainty percussion grooves help transform matters into a near hypnotic state. The soloists explore multiple tonal ranges, abetted by Gratkowski's use of bass clarinet and acting as a mediator during a bit of band-induced angst. Moving forward, the quartet's turbulent shifts in tempo transform into punchy, odd-metered detoursa signature stylization of Hemingway's timekeeping mechanics. A magnum opus, Le Vent et la Gorge complements the quartet's multilateral tactics as an album that looms as one of Gratkowski's crowning achievements.
Track Listing: Harm-oh-nie; Le Vent et la Gorge; Lied/Song; GO!; The Flying Dutchman.
Personnel: Frank Gratkowski: alto saxophone, clarinet, bass and contrabass clarinet, composition; Wolter Wierbos: trombone; Dieter Manderscheid: double bass; Gerry Hemingway: drums.
Record Label: Leo Records
Style: Free Improv/Avant-Garde