November 2nd, 2009
Achim Kaufmann (piano), Frank Gratkowski (alto saxophone & clarinets), and Wilbert de Joode (bass) incorporateed aspects of contemporary classical music, free improvisation, and the jazz tradition with enormous sympathy, dexterity, and power in their Earshot Jazz Festival appearance at the Chapel Performance Space Monday night.It was a really moving and beautiful musical experience listening to them perform tonight.
“The trio utilizes its collective musical and personal history to construct a new and unrepeatable world with each performance. The ensemble can create sparse, tense music from the bristling details of quiet interaction, while later firing through heated group improvisations as fast as the ear can follow. The group sound of the trio, which has only strengthened in the last few years, is as bold and unique as any on the scene today. Gratkowski and Kaufmann in particular (the pair first met while studying at the Conservatory of Music in Cologne) perform on a supremely assured plane. The level of empathy between the two men is utterly remarkable. Hardly an experiment in sound collage, however, the music seamlessly moves from sumptuous piano sonorities, fire-breathing Dolphy-esque alto lines, to the most delicate unaccompanied bass performances, all with utter conviction. Sure to defy your expectations of European contemporary improvisation, the Kaufman/ Gratkowski/de Joode trio, as Downbeat’s Greg Buium noted, is “like nothing you’ve heard before.”