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Gratkowski/Brown/Winant: Wake (2009)

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Gratkowski/Brown/Winant: Wake How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Intuition plays a major role in the music that Frank Gratkowski, Chris Brown and William Winant construct. All are freedom riders who conjure unusual patterns.

Rumination is often the take-off point. "Slide" builds an ethereal atmosphere. The notes of the saxophone wisp around as Brown scurries on the piano. The atmosphere takes gradual shape, an eerie air giving way to a pronounced dissonance. The volatility of the sounds that each lets permeate clash and reverberate, come together for a brief union and then distance themselves. But in all of that there is an underlying pattern, a kaleidoscope of sound and color that glues the piece together.

Winant references the melody of "Parallax" on the vibraphone and pulls Gratkowski into the refrain. The mood is built on a neo-classical approach, the transparency of the music shimmering and beautiful. The trio builds on that through shifts of timbre, opening up the nuances and adding a bit of muscularity to make for an alluring journey. Gratkowski gives his instruments a timbre and texture that is divined by the circumstances.

"Scrabble" runs up on the twittering of the saxophone and fluttering percussion, the progression molded by electronics. Sound is filtered, it is squeezed, it is let loose to traipse albeit briefly, but it is never in stasis. Each permutation builds on the other in a logical extension that is splintered yet cohesive.

The trio lets their music take manifold shapes. They can command the mood through a finely honed solo or fragmented construction just as they can lock lines with tensile tautness and ferocious phrases. The sound is their own and gives them a pertinent presence.

Track Listing: Slide; Ambitus; Scrabble; Parallax; Archipelago.

Personnel: Frank Gratkowski: clarinet; William Winant: vibraphone and percussion; Chris Brown: piano and live electronics, clarinet, alto sax.

Record Label: Red Toucan Records

Style: Free Improv/Avant-Garde


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