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Wake by Gratkowski/Brown/Winant

You can generally count on quality product from three eminent improvisers aligning their laudable wares. Recorded at Mills College in Oakland, CA., the trio executes a superb study in polytonal expressionism via densely populated tone poems, colorific textures and microtonal dialogues. But there’s much more involved here.

Multi-woodwind ace Frank Gratkowski renders an aggregation of off-kilter phrasings atop pianist Chris Brown’s live electronics treatments and drummer/percussionist Willie Winant’s kaleidoscopic attack. With verbose dialogues and fleeting waves of sound across divergent storylines, the trio generates a confederation of highly emotive aspects.

The band offers happenstance and at times, whimsical exchanges where each piece stands on its own. And it’s not bogged down with repetitious or superfluous activities. For example, Winant’s rolling toms work opens the floodgates for the band’s rousing finale on the increasingly turbulent extended piece titled "Slide." Then Brown’s EFX type interference noise shaping jaunts provide a middle ground for his band-mates distorted depiction of what a rainforest might seem like, especially when it’s difficult to discern who is doing what. Of course, that’s part of the beauty, since Winant’s small percussion hits, Brown’s plucking of the piano strings and Gratkowski’s terse woodwind notes generate an existential framework.

The musicians’ sport yet another look on "Parallax," accentuated by Gratkowski’s droning sax parts and Brown’s stammering chord patterns. Here, Winant adds a multihued layer via his upper register vibes work. In addition, Brown’s silvery and streaming electronics induced movements add a bizarre element to the overall schema. Hence, the artists’ triumphantly pursue a wealth of uncanny musical propositions that should consistently prod or test your inner psyche.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Gratkowski/Brown/Winant
  • CD Title: Wake
  • Genre: Free Jazz / Avante Garde
  • Year Released: 2008
  • Record Label: Red Toucan
  • Musicians: Frank Gratkowski (clarinet, bass clarinet, alto sax), Chris Brown (piano, live electronics), Willie Winant (vibraphone, percussion)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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