According to journalist Marc Chenard, “Call them spur-of-the-moment pieces if you will, or instant compositions, these essays in spontaneous music are outgrowths of a collective playing experience.
Since its inception almost three years ago, this unit has criss-crossed Europe on more than one occasion, one of its tours yielding enough material for a first recording on the Berlin-based Konnex label, a disc entitled Kwast.
In this follow up release, pianist Achim Kaufmann, reedist Frank Gratkowski and bassist Wilbert de Joode have succeeded in meeting one of the prime challenges of improvised music, i.e. of achieving a very different sounding set of music than in its previous effort. In Unearth, these musicians focus moreso on discursive strategies, whereas its predecessor emphasized timbral explorations.”
Bruce Gallanter of the Downtown Music Gallery says, “This is an extraordinary trio that had a superb disc out last year on the Konnex label. With instrumentation similar to the classic Jimmy Giuffre Trio (clarinet, piano & bass) from the mid-sixties, this current trio updates Giuffre’s chamber-jazz sound in different ways. If this music is mostly improvised, it certainly doesn’t sound like it. It is much closer to the restraint, thoughtfulness and sublime balance of contemporary classical music, than most modern jazz. At times it difficult to tell the bowed bass from the bass clarinet and the rubbing of objects inside the piano also comes from a similar sonic section. Pieces often move in slow motion so that the combined sounds can move and explore together, between space and suspense. Even when they start to swing more quickly, they always sail together as one solid force, no matter that they are still free at times. Like all releases on the consistently great Nuscope label, the production and balance is perfect, a marvel of warmth and attention to detail in just the right studio.”
According to David Dupont in Cadence magazine, “Gratkowski, Kaufmann, and de Joode demonstrate on Unearth the kind of close listening needed to create a unified collective sound. Often that means they moderate the volume of the music, forcing the listener either to fade out of the proceedings or, if they’re serious, to focus more intently on the musicians’ interactions…For this trio, the musical poetry is found in the sawing song of de Joode’s bass, the breathy tones of Gratkowski’s horns, (and) the splashes and plinks of Kaufmann’s piano. To draw on the rhetoric of the session’s titles, it all has its own kinky logic, yet nothing seems remotely connected to any textbook.”
This release features an 8-page booklet with liner notes from Montreal-based journalist Marc Chenard, and very original cover art from Achim Kaufmann’s wife, Gabriele Guenther.