A wonderfully playful and buoyant duo between trombonist Sebi Tramontana and reedist Frank Gratkowski performing on bass clarinet, clarinet, and alto saxophone, performing live at Spanski Borci Theatre, in Ljubljana, Slovenia in 2016 over 15 concise and compelling dialogs.
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Catalog ID: LEO 779
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Recorded live at Spanski Borci Theatre, in Ljubljana, Slovenia, on February 16th, 2016, and November 6th, 2015, by Iztok Klopotec.
Frank Gratkowski-bass clarinet, clarinet, alto saxophone
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1. Revelation 5:07
2. Spirited 4:03
3. Time And Space 3:07
4. Dancer 4:52
5. Singer 3:19
6. You're Tough 4:54
7. Series Of Dramatic Events 5:21
8. Daydream 6:40
9. Deceiver 2:13
10. Nocturne 4:14
11. Enthusiasm 1:01
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sample the album:
"Frank Gratkowski: "The duo with Sebi is very special for me. It has a beautiful playfullness and lightness. The connection between us is almost mysterious and he makes me play very different than I do in other formations. I call it "instant songs" where each "song" tells its own little story." Sebi Tramontana: "Frank has got "wonderschuhe." What I have wished for me for years. Frank is a true "cominante " for me. I am very grateful that during the last 19 years I have been meeting him every now and then. Frank is a bottomless pit, human and artistic."-Leo
Liner notes by Steve Beresford:
I am sometimes haunted by the memory of a video clip of Billy Eckstine on the last Nat 'King' Cole television show, broadcast in December1957. Eckstine and Cole sing 'Rosetta' and Eckstine plays the trumpet. He then plays an instrument resembling a tenor saxophone, but when we hear it, it's clear that it's not a saxophone. It's some kind of brass instrument, probably a valve trombone, made to look like a saxophone. The video notes say it's a 'Jazzphone'.
I'm always haunted by Flann O'Brien's novel 'The Third Policeman', in which the principle of what Sergeant Pluck calls The Atomic Theory has an important role: "...people who spend most of their natural lives riding iron bicycles over the rocky roadsteads of this parish get their personalities mixed up with the personalities of their bicycle...".
Could the Jazzphone be a result of some Atomic Theory personality mix-up of a saxophone and a trombone? And what about the almost-as-rare slide saxophone - a soprano with a slide enabling long glissandi (often played by Lol Coxhill with the help of a bucket of water)? Is it in the midst of its transition to becoming a trombone? Say, seventy per cent saxophone, thirty per cent trombone?
(Are these 'Pataphysical musings? Yes, but I find them instructive).
Here - I mean on this CD - we have recordings of pieces by a duet of trombone and various reed instruments. The instruments, whilst not adopting each others' physical characteristics, have clearly, with the invaluable help of their respective players, borrowed much musical stuff from each other.
Personalities are routinely mixed up, like O'Brien's bicycles and their riders. Strategies are generated spontaneously.Structures are created, sometimes carefully, sometimes in a rough and tumble way.Techniques are adopted and developed until they become a natural part of the player's repertoire. New things are very often discovered: sounds, techniques, ways of relating.
Despite free improvisers stubbornly ignoring the recent demands from a couple of journalists (let's call them Statler and Waldorf) that:
a. In the middle of each piece, they should periodically stop playing so they can hear what the other people are playing,
b. They should not play with anyone else because the other person might play something that makes them think of a pre-existing piece of music,
the standard of free improvising all over the place has continued to rise. This is true, even though it consists of people playing without gaps and even playing with other people. Shocking.
Sensitive listeners will be pleased to know that despite the time Sebi and Frank undoubtedly spend with their respective instruments, they are not slowly turning into them. Unlike some players (i.e. me) Sebi and Frank are well-rounded personalities, just as likely to be influenced by some architecture or a piece of cheese as they are likely to be influenced by other musicians.
I will throw Statler and Waldorf a bone here and at least mention the great tradition of trombone/reed duos, especially embodied in those involving Roswell Rudd, whose laconic trombonist statements enliven his interplay with Archie Shepp, Steve Lacy, John Tchicai. Hear echoes here.
If you are someone just starting to discover this music, this recording provides myriad examples of ways of how things can be put together. Just make a list and try them out! See how areas are investigated for a while in one piece. In the next piece there might be lots of areas covered in a short time. Instruments might not seem to be acknowledging each other and then it will become clear that they have a deeper connection. Things are not rejected just because they are serious. Or funny.
Or don't do any such thing. Sit there and listen. Statler and Waldorf may find it hard to admit that free improvisation is fun. But we know different.
• Show Bio for Frank Gratkowski
"Frank Gratkowski, saxophone. Born in Hamburg, 1963.
Started playing the saxophone at 16 and, following a period at the Hamburg Conservatory (Hamburger Musikhochschule), moved in 1985 to study at the Cologne Conservatory of Music with Heiner Wiberny, graduating in 1990.
Further studies with Charlie Mariano, Sal Nistico and Steve Lacy.
Frank Gratkowski has been working as a soloist in various international formations (Grubenklang Orchester, Klaus Koenig Orchester, Musikfabrik NRW, Tony Oxley Celebration Orchestra, Bentje Braam, BikBentBraam, All Ears, Zeitkratzer, WDR Big band, etc.). Since 1990 he has been giving solo performances throughout Europe, Canada and USA. With his first solo program, he was a 1991 prizewinner in the Musik Kreativ contest. The release of the solo CD "Artikulationen" followed the same year and a new one "Artikulationen II" in 2002.
Since 1992 he has been working in a duo with the pianist Georg Graewe (CD "VicissEtudes"). The duo is often extended through the participation of different additional musicians, such as drummer Paul Lovens (CD "Quicksand") and bassist John Lindberg (CD "Arrears").
In 1995 he founded the "Frank Gratkowski Trio" with Dieter Manderscheid (Germany), bass, and Gerry Hemingway (USA), drums, (CDs "Gestalten" and "The Flume Factor" ). In 2000 the trio has been extended to a quartet by Dutch trombonist Wolter Wierbos (CDs "Kollaps", "Spectral Reflections", "Facio" and "Le Vent et la Gorge"). Since 2003 also appearing as a Double Quartet plus Tobias Delius, Herb Robertson, Wilbert DeJoode and Michael Vatcher. In 2005 he got the SWR Jazzprize.
In 1999 the duo with the Italian trombonist Sebastiano Tramontana has been formed and since 2001 Frank Gratkowski has been performing with a trio including Wilbert De Jode (NL) on bass and Achim Kaufmann (D) on piano (CDs "Kwast" and "Unearth"). Since 2006 he's working with the Trio Gratkowski / Brown / Winant (CDs "Wake" and "Vermilion Traces/Donaueschingen 2009"). He is also a co-leader / composer of the Multiple Joy[ce] Orchestra and got a commission to compose for the ensemble Apartment House by "November Music " (Den Bosch NL) and the "Huddersfield Comtemporary Music Fesitival" (England) in 2009. Further actual projects are Fo[u]r Alto, a saxophone ensemble dedicated to microtonal music and "Artikulationen E" a solo program for saxophone with 8 channel live electronic.
Frank Gratkowski played on nearly every German and on numerous international Jazz and contemporary music Festivals including Vancouver, Toronto, Chicago, New York, Seattle, Quebec, Les Mans, Muelhuus, Groeningen, Nickelsdorf, Barcelona, Lithuania, Warsaw, Zagreb, Prague, Bratislava, Sofia, Bucharest, Odessa and Roma, Huddersfield, London.
He has been teaching saxophone and ensembles at the Cologne, Berlin and Arnhem Conservatory of Music and is giving workshops all around the world.
Furthermore he has performed with Robert Dick, Phil Wachsmann, Radu Malfatti, Herb Robertson, Marcio Mattos, Eugenio Colombo, Peter Kowald, Ray Anderson, Michael Moore, Ken Vandermark, Greg Osby, Kenny Wheeler, Louis Sclavis, John Betsch, Jane Ira Bloom, Connie and Hannes Bauer, Xu Fengxia, James Newton, Muhal Richard Abrams, John Lindberg, Michael Formaneck, Ernst Reijseger, Fred van Hove, Theo Jörgensmann, Phil Minton, Peter Brötzmann, Mark Dresser, Mark Feldman, Hamid Drake, Michiel Braam, Han Bennink, Mal Waldron, Misha Mengelberg a.m.o."-Frank Gratkowski Website (http://gratkowski.com/biography/)
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• Show Bio for Sebi Tramontana
"Sebi Tramontana (born December 12, 1960) is a jazz trombonist most often associated with avant-garde jazz and free improvisation music. A member of the Italian Instabile Orchestra, Tramontana has also recorded with such musical artists as Jeb Bishop, Joëlle Léandre, Mario Schiano, and Carlos Zingaro."
"Born 12 December 1960 in Rosolini, Sicily; trombone.
Sebi Tramontana started playing guitar as a child and then moved to the soprano saxophone in the late 1970s. He switched to trombone in 1982 and during a radio production with Bruno Tommaso met Giancarlo Schiaffini, who convinced him to move to Rome and study with him at A. Casella Conservatorio in L'Aquila. In Rome he calloborated with Martin Joseph, Eugenio Colombio and Mario Schiano and in 1986 was a member of the New Talents Orchestra, performing at the Rocella Jonica Festival. He guested with Gruppo Romano Free Jazz for their 30th anniversary in 1996.
In 1987 he started a trio with Daniel Studer and Roberto Altamura which played at the Contraindicazione Festival in Rome and subsequently performed with Paul Rutherford, Barry Guy, Gerard Siracusa, Eugenio Colombo, Co Streiff and Martin Mayes.
Tramontana was invited by Mario Schiano in 1988 to take part in the recording of Red and blue with Vladimir Tarasov and Vladimir Chekasin. In 1990 he completed his studies at A. Casella Conservatorio and joined the Italian Instabile Orchestra.
His first solo performance was in Rome in 1992 and this has been followed by performances in Zürich, Mulhouse, Clusone, Köln, Ruvo Di Puglia, Roccella, Jonica and Göttingen. In 1994 he was invited by Georg Gräwe to "Two Nights Of Random Acoustics" in Köln, subsequently joining the Georg Graewe Quintet and touring Europe. In 1998, he recorded a duo with Graewe for the Italian Splasc(h) label and in July 2003 became a member of the Georg Graewe new quintet, with Tobias Delius, Kent Kessler and Michael Vatcher.
In 1996 Tramontana performed at the festival di Roccella Jonica with Barre Phillips, Michel Doneda and two dancers and then at the Victoriaville festival with Mario Schiano, Evan Parker, Paul Lovens and Barry Guy. He also appeared at the Empty Bottle in Chiacgo with Hamid Drake, Kent Kessler, Ken Vandermark and Mars Williams. In 1997 he performed the 'Art Of Dialogue' in Munich with Joëlle Léandre.
In 1999 he received a scholarship from the City of Munich for 6 week residence in the US and as a result visited Chicago (playing at the Empty Bottle festival and recording with Jim Baker, Fred Lonberg Holm, Michael Zerang, Lou Mallozi, Jeb Bishop, Ken Vandermark and Kent Kessler), San Francisco and New York. From 1999 to 2002 he was Artistic Director (with Ch.Hofig department of Culture of the City of Munich) of the festival "Come Sunday" and during this period he also founded the group XAXA with Phil Wachsmann, Mats Gustafsson and Paul Lovens.
In 2001 Tramontana undertook concerts and recordings in Chicago with the "Night People" project (a homage to Dickie Wells), a string quartet with Guiellermo Gregorio on clarinet and in duo with Jeb Bishop (Chicago defenders). He also began to play in duo with Paul Lovens (with the Buster Keaton The General project), performing in Munich, Ljubljana, Graz, Cologne, Regensburg, Rome, Maribor, Kassel and Göttingen. In 2002-03 he was a member of the Mats Gustafsson's Nu Ensemble.
In 2003 he appeared at the Banlieues Bleu Festival in Paris and Ghent (Belgium) with Joëlle Léandre's European Quartett featuring Carlos Zingaro Paul Lovens and special guest Irène Schweizer. He played a duo with Léandre at the Ulrichsberg Kaleidophon and also performed in the Trombone Trio - in Ljubljana and Maribor - with Vinko Globokar and Johannes Bauer.
Since 1999 Sebi Tramontana has toured Germany and Austria with TV and movie actor Udo Wachtveitl and, since 2001, been a musician and actor with the Dance Company En Knap of Iztok Kovac from Ljubljana. He appeared in the film of Under my skin, directed by Saso Podgorsek, in 2004. 2004 also saw a collaboration with the electronic 48 nord group in Munich.
In November 2004 he will exhibit his paintings in an exhibition in Chicago entitled Stop, Look & Listen: Artwork by Musicians alongside works by Pee Wee Russel, Hal Rammel, Han Bennink, Peter Brötzmann and others. In April 2005 he will tour with Joëlle Léandre and Paul Lovens and will be in Chicago to perform with a new project of Lou Mallozzi."-Wickipedia, European Free Improv Page (http://www.efi.group.shef.ac.uk/musician/mtramon.html)
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