Frank Gratkowski Trio - "Quicksand"
(Meniscus Records 1999 MNSCS 007)

From Aural Innovations #15 (April 2001)

This version of the Frank Gratkowski Trio (his web site indicates there have been a few) consists of Frank on alto saxophone, clarinet, and bass clarinet, Georg Graewe on piano, and Paul Lovens on percussion and singing saw (yes, I do believe I hear it). Lovens is the only name I've heard before having seen him mentioned on Eugene Chadbourne's web site for a collaboration they did. Quicksand includes four tracks, all in the 9-15 minute range, of rollicking improvisational jazz-based workouts from a live performance in 1999. The trio often venture into the avant-garde, but are overall most accessible relative to a lot of similar music.

While this is titled as being Gratkowski's trio, it is a combined effort to be sure. Some of the best moments are subtle quiet segments in which a great deal is actually happening. All three musicians are jamming busily in their own realms but coming together as a tightly knit whole. Listening with headphones I could imagine being at the performance with piano to the left of the stage, horn right of center, and percussion dancing and prancing at the right. But things also inevitably build into frenzied sections in which Gratkowski and Graewe's playing meld a bit more and Lovens kicks out some varied and enjoyable percussion work. Some hot and creatively constructed playing from this delightful improv trio.

For more information you can visit the Meniscus Records web site.
Contact via snail mail c/o Menscus Records; 3010 Hennepin Ave South #217; Minneapolis, MN 55408.

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

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