Frank Gratkowski first played with Fred Van Hove at the Chicago Improvisation Festival in May of 1997 with Chicago-based percussionist Michael Zerang. The duo of Gratkowski and Van Hove was dizzying, as their considerable technique, careful attention to timbre, and sometimes blinding energy made for an amazing first set together.
According to John Corbett, “Take GratHovOx, a trio with a sensational ability to open spaces up in their sound-making activities, to leave room and appreciate the delicacies of one another’s musical choices.”
François Couture of the All Music Guide says, “This is a great session recorded in Leverkusen, Germany…GratHovOx embodies everything uninhibited free improv can deliver…The trio aims at a kind of free improvisation that leaves room to breathe and listen without getting entrenched in the sonic scrutiny of Berlin reductionism. The music has movement, grace, and moments of sheer excitement that never lose sight of the group sound — the perfect balance act. Simply put, GratHovOx stands as one of the best free improv sessions released in 2002 and comes heartily recommended.”
According to perhaps one of the more important post-modernist pianists of this age, Uri Caine, in a Blindfold Test with Ted Panken for DownBeat Magazine, “When it (‘Tiddledit’) started out, it could have been a piece by Stockhausen. The saxophone player might be Greg Osby or Tim Berne. Neither? There’s a certain tone, and he’s repeating a complicated line, with jumps. That’s the Tim Berne area. In the beginning, the pianist used the pedal and the voicing, getting almost a harp-like sound, like certain music of Messiaen, but this more active section has a Cecil Taylor vibe.”
This release, which is culled from a live WDR recording and additional recording done earlier in the day, features an 8-page booklet with liner notes from writer John Corbett, and beautiful cover photography by Gregory J. Lawler.