Frank Gratkowski


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Once in a while a record goes back to free improvisation fundamentals: musicianship, experience, synergy, and most of all proportions, dosage. Quicksand, a jazz-based improv trio date, has it all. You can't ask for more musicianship and experience than that: these are three seasoned improvisers who have worked in many different contexts. Although saxophonist/clarinetist Frank Gratkowski is billed as the leader, all three musicians get equal treatment. Ideas fuse from each mind. At one point on "Second Coming," Gratkowski initiates a ghost of a melody pianist Georg Graewe immediately picks up and develops in his own language: That's synergy. The participants evolve like three facets of one mind. But what makes Quicksand a beautiful listening experience is the fact that it has been produced with the listener in mind. At 44 minutes, this CD is just long enough. All the material presented is relevant and the listener gets out of it without the feeling of exhaustion often associated with 75-minute "blow 'em all away" discs. There is a nice tension between energy and introspectiveness (this is not the same as tension-and-release!), triggered by drummer Paul Lovens' shifts between drums, cymbals, and singing saw. Simply put: Free improv hardly gets more enjoyable than that.

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