Thursday, November 17, 2016

Lambic Jazz Vol.9

Allen Lowe That Devilin' TuneFrank Gratkowski Trio: Quicksand (Meniscus)
I reorganized my CDs last week and maybe Quicksand lodged somewhere in my mind as I’m not sure what made me reach for this album tonight. Pianist Georg Graewe and percussionist Paul Lovens join Frank’s alto sax, clarinet and bass clarinet for a set of four free improvisations recorded live at Stadtgarten in 1999. At times it's an intense 44 minutes and I'm pretty sure my wife would have preferred something else, but it suited me just fine (even with the volume down low).

I tend to go through periods of listening to Frank's music and it had been a while since I had one of his albums on. Last week I picked up his first solo recording, Artikulationen, but I'm yet to give it a spin so it (along with tonight's listening) might just get me revisiting a few of his albums.

I’ve been lucky to hear Frank in concert on a three occasions (with three different groups). Although his music sometimes moves away from my aesthetic preferences, there is always plenty to take away from the performance (or recording). Without question he is one of the best saxophone players I have heard in the flesh (he's ain't half bad on clarinets either!). One piece in particular by his trio with Achim Kaufmann and Wilbert de Joode from a gig at Roulette in 2009 featured some jaw-dropping alto playing I would love to hear again. Who knows, maybe it would disappoint on the second time around. Listening to recordings of gigs you attended is similar to listening recordings of your own playing - things get accented that you missed in the moment, other memories are lost on the recording. That in itself is interesting.

Even though I'm still finishing off the Mike Nock biography, I have started on Allen Lowe's That Devilin' Tune: A jazz history, 1900-1950. I started reading it a while back but got distracted and put it down and now I'm finally getting back in to it. Lowe spends a nice amount of time on pre-jazz without limiting himself self to the usual Africa-blues-ragtime-jazz timeline. It's an interesting read and recommended for those of you interested in the roots of the music.

Tonight's listening was accompanied by a dry Hanssens Artisanaal Oude Gueuze. And now it's time to tune into the second test between India and England (the first day of New Zealand v Pakistan was washed out).

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