Monthly Archives: October 2007

Justin Peake, Frank Gratkowski, and Dan Oestreicher

Justin is a percussionist.  Frank and Dan play things with reeds.  Dan plays things with knobs too.  Beyond that we aren’t really sure what will happen.

From Frank’s website bio:

Frank Gratkowski 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 “Arikulationen 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” and “Facio”). Since 2003 also appearing as a Double Quartet plus Tobi 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”).

Frank Gratkowski played on nearly every German and on numerous international Jazz 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.

He has been teaching saxophone and ensembles at the Cologne, Berlin and Arnhem Conservatory of Music and is giving workshops all around the world as well.

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.

Jonathan Freilich Group, plus Wilbert de Joode and Helen Gillet

Set 1 – Dutch Master Wilbert de Joode (bass) and Helen Gillet (cello)

Set 2 – Jonathan Freilich Group with James Singleton, Doug Garrison, and Chris Kohl.

From Wilbert de Joode’s website bio:

Wilbert de Joode (1955) is a veritable research scientist of bass pizzicato and bowing techniques. A self-taught musician, he has been playing the double-bass since 1982. He began working in groups that improvised within a jazz framework. Other musicians were soon drawn to his idiosyncratic style, and in the mid 80s he played in groups led by Vera Vingerhoeds, Armando Cairo and Ig Henneman where he further developed his improvisation skills. He came into contact with such musicians as J.C.Tans, Rinus Groeneveld, Michiel Braam, Han Bennink, Han Buhrs (Schismatics) and Ab Baars.

De Joode is currently one of the most active bass players on the European improvised music circuit. His individual style and musicality transforms the double bass into an equal partner in the most varied ensembles. A personal tone colour, exploration of the outer registers, quirky improvisations and the use of gut strings contribute to an instantly recognizable and intriguing sound. The seventeen improvised pieces on his first solo cd Olo (distributed by ToonDist ( ) show how rich and complex his sound on the double bass is.

Music Mash Up v. 1.0 with special guest Thollem Mcdonas

The first in a series of Mash Ups featuring improvisers of all leanings
mixed and mashed in musical fun and games.

An early solo set from Thollem Mcdonas, then he joins Tim McFatter, Jimbo Walsh, Dan Oestreicher, Jonathan Freilich, Helen Gillet, Justin Peake, Jeff Albert, and Dave Cappello for improvisations in various combinations.

From Thollem Mcdonas’ website bio:

Thollem Mcdonas, pianist/vocalist/composer/improviser, recipient of the 2006 National Endowment of the Arts Meet The Composer grant, was born Feb. 23, 1967 in the San Francisco Bay Area of Irish and Cherokee descent. He is touring perpetually, the previous year in Europe, currently in the U.S. He began his musical training as a young child rigorously studying the keyboard repertoire from the renaissance to the 20th century. After graduating with degrees in both piano performance and composition he chose to become homeless for several years, opting to wander and live out of a backpack, rather than pursue a career as a concert pianist with a suit and tie. It is because of these dichotomies and rich, wildly disparate experiences that his music is so dynamic and appeals to such a wide variety of audiences.

His travels as a performer have covered much of the North American continent and Europe. He has performed extensively as a soloist as well with groups. He is a founding member of several innovative ensembles, and is responsible, in full or in part, for many albums of original music, with both Pax Recordings and Edgetone Records, as well as some self released. In the past year he has toured Italy and logged 13,000 miles on the road throughout America. After the release of three albums in 2005, he is planning seven more this coming year.

Thollem has performed in theaters, art galleries, universities, elementary schools, concert halls, jazz clubs, rock clubs, festivals, warehouses, house concerts, streets, forests, the Shoshone Desert at the Nevada nuclear test site, on television, radio, in circuses, and riots. He has performed piano concertos with symphonies, played in many free improv groups, West African drumming troupes, and Javanese gamelan ensembles, all the while working as an accompanist and a composer for opera and modern dance.

Currently Thollem primarily plays his own comprovisations which he calls post-classical circus punk world jazz free music, for people and everyone else. His music whispers/screams, “there are as many worlds in a life as there are lives in the world”.