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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Frank Gratkowski Quartet: Le Vent et la Gorge

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Multi-reedman Frank Gratkowski is a shrewd operator from almost all conceivable angles. And on Le Vent et la Gorge, the stylizations of drummer Gerry Hemingway's fabled quartet weave in and out of the full spectrum. Of course, this component is factored in by the drummer's appearance along with Hemingway's longtime band-mate, Dutch trombonist Wolter Wierbos, lending his wares as well. Ultimately, it's Gratkowski's hyper-inventive mindset that elevates this program towards its zenith, especially considering similar 2012 releases by others. The quartet seamlessly bridges modern classical with the avant-garde jazz strata from a structural and improvisational platform. It also ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Frank Gratkowski / Jacob Anderskov: Ardent Grass

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The reeds-piano duo is hardly overdone within the recorded canon, but then neither has it been as rare or unusual as some lineups. This particular duo is apparently not unaware of this, and there's a personality to its work that's entirely its own.There's a little of Anthony Braxton about Frank Gratkowski's alto sax playing on the opening “Narrative" but not enough to distract the ear from the profundity of the music-making. Pianist Jacob Anderskov's touch is, by turns, delicate and marked by Cecil Taylor-like intensity, but happily that name serves only as a point of reference. The duo ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Frank Gratkowski / Jacob Anderskov: Ardent Grass

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Over the years, reed/woodwind multi-instrumentalist Frank Gratkowski has formed a series of potent combinations with other musicians. His first was with Georg Graewe in 1992 before he went on to fruitful collaborations with Gerry Hemingway, Wilbert DeJoode, Michael Vatcher and Herb Robertson, among others. Gratkowski has the ingrained ability to turn the presence of his musical partners into a creative force that exemplifies the art of improvisation, and does it once more with pianist Jacob Anderskov on Ardent Grass, which was recorded live at The Loft in Köln, Germany. Anderskov has his career in full gear leading a ...

INTERVIEWS

Frank Gratkowski: Accept Everything

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Virtuoso German reed specialist Frank Gratkowski enjoys a particularly fertile range of collaborations, settings and directional thrusts. He was back in New York in October, 2009 with a trio that has released three albums during the last six years: Kwast (Konnex, 2004), Unearth (Nuscope, 2005) and Palaë (Leo, 2006). Appearing at Roulette, Gratkowski was joined by pianist Achim Kaufmann and bassist Wilbert De Joode, both of whom hail from the Netherlands. The gig is billed as a session of “improvised chamber music."

Gratkowski elaborates: “There are no predefined rules. What we do is what I call ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Frank Gratkowski: Palae, Wake and Live at the Musik Triennale Koln

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Achim Kaufman/ Frank Gratkowski/ Wilbert de Joode Palae Leo Records 2007 Frank Gratkowski/ Chris Brown/ William Winant Wake Red Toucan Records 2008 James Choice Orchestra live at the musik triennale koln Leo Records 2008

German reedman Frank Gratkowski has become an increasingly significant presence on both sides of the Atlantic in recent years. Although perhaps best known for his quartet with drummer Gerry Hemingway, such currency ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Frank Gratkowski and Misha Mengelberg: vis--vis

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Misha Mengelberg's legacy, through his ICP Orchestra, will be as a pianist who is a unique jazz interpreter and bandleader with a devotion to Herbie Nichols, Monk and Ellington. And while he's made his own mark, it's only part of the story. At the helm of the ICP, Mengelberg leads jaunty, jazzy ditties, loaded with melody and humor. But on occasion, other sides of him seep out. Mengelberg, the son of a symphony conductor, was classically trained in his native Netherlands and while that background shows through at times with the ICP--he seems happiest when the group ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Frank Gratkowski Project: Loft Exil V

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In the first movement of Gustav Mahler's Third Symphony, the composer musically presents the birth of the world and nature, with plants and animals coming to life in a wild and brilliant procession. It's the familiar sound world of the composer translated into a rich tableau that is somehow both familiar and brand new. In this set's first extended piece, “The Morning Beckons, saxophonist Gratkowski and his band offer an emergence from the darkness, as presented in the improvising chattering and chirping of an ensemble that's smaller than the Mahler orchestra but no less expressive in its dramatic ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Frank Gratkowski Quartet: Facio

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Veteran German saxophonist/multi-clarinetist Frank Gratkowski's latest offering, Facio , is an ambitious nine-part suite covering a swath of musical territory--from composed ensemble sections to free improvisation, delicate whispers to ferocious sonic assaults. But the different facets are skillfully joined together--the composition offers a hint of structure to the improvisations and the free playing adds spontaneity to the written material. In the capable hands of trombonist Wolter Wierbos, bassist Dieter Manderscheid, and drummer Gerry Hemingway, Gratkowski's music lures the listener into the journey like a storyteller alternating between action, wit and quiet reflection to keep things constantly moving. “Evocation" ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Frank Gratkowski - Fred Van Hove - Tony Oxley: GRATHOVOX

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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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Frank Gratkowski Trio: Quicksand

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The three Germans on this disc are dedicated to upholding the tradition of that expressionism in improvised music. Over the course of four lengthy compositions, which seem demarcated more in the interest of providing convenient entry points rather than delineating drastic shifts in direction, they do just that. Lovens is perhaps the best known among them. Through his longtime associations with Evan Parker and Alexander von Schlippenbach he has hammered out reputation as one of the most versatile improvisers in the world. But what Graewe and Gratkowski lack in the way of far flung notoriety is more than compensated for ...



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