Georg Graewe and Frank Gratkowski | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Georg Graewe and Frank Gratkowski 

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This German duo has come to Chicago to find a rhythm section. On the basis of recordings he'd heard, pianist Georg Graewe sought out bassist Kent Kessler and percussionist Hamid Drake to form a new quartet with himself and saxophonist Frank Gratkowski. Unfortunately Drake had to pass--he's out of town--but Kessler was game. The duo's interest in Chicago musicians makes a certain degree of sense, since, according to concert presenter John Corbett, their hometown of Cologne has a tight-knit experimental jazz and new-music scene much like ours, with musicians from a range of backgrounds--jazz, classical, improv, and experimental--eagerly intermingling with fascinating results. On Vicissetudes (Random Acoustics), for instance, Graewe and Gratkowski's edgy improvisations range from dissonant clanging to serene, minimalist sound studies. Graewe has played in Chicago before, with saxophonist Guillermo Gregorio, and his playing evokes many of the trademark sounds of European piano improvisers, forcing Cecil Taylor's extroversion through a cool, cerebral filter. Gratkowski, who's making his Chicago debut, is equally flexible, with a keen understanding of the standard jazz vocabulary to complement his daring contemporary classical maneuvers. Wednesday, 9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Laurence M Svirchev.

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