logo   Melodie Und Rhythmus (OD12024)
Musicians Georg Gräwe Quartet:
Georg Gräwe — piano
Frank Gratkowski — reeds
Kent Kessler — bass
Hamid Drake — percussion
Cover and Artwork cover

Cover painting: Ben Portis
Graphic design: Louise Molnar
Inside photo: Bruce Carnevale

Songs 1. Nodality (4:51) (MPEG2)
2. Imaginary Portrait I (6:56)
3. Passing Scopes (7:11)
4. Trajectory (7:17)
5. Fringe Factor (11:01)
6. Multiversum (5:59)
7. Memory of Wings II (17:55)
total time: 61:15

All compositions by Drake/Gräwe/Gratkowski/Kessler
Recording Info Recorded at AirWave Recording Studios, Chicago, IL, May 1997

Produced by: Georg Gräwe
Executive Producer: Bruno Johnson
Engineer: John McCortney

Liner Notes Band narrative: Georg Gräwe visits Chicago for the first time (1995), performing solo, recording a solo record for OkkaDisk, and collaborating with alto saxist/clarinetist Guillermo Gregorio. Gräwe quickly develops an affinity for the vibrant local scene and the city’s jazz and blues heritage. Buys a copy of Magic Sam’s West Side Soul (Delmark). Enjoys a Bookers at the Hopleaf. Late that year, he hears a group of Chicago improvisors in Germany at the Moers Festival. Bassist Kent Kessler and drummer Hamid Drake are among the six participants (later known as the Moers Six). At a certain point in three days of ad-hoc groupings, long-standing Gräwe accomplice Frank Gratkowski adds his alto sax and clarinet to the Chicagoans’ music. The seeds for the group are sown in the ears of the listening pianist. In 1996, Gräwe is deeply impressed by Kessler’s playing on Steelwool Trio’s International Front (OkkaDisk), and he finally settles on the formation of a quartet, inviting Drake — with whom he had been eager to work since before his first visit to Chicago — and Kessler from the Windy City, and Gratkowski from Köln. Music Minus One: first concert (and studio session) in November of ’96, without Drake. Intensive trio interaction, clear connection forged between these three parts — big question-mark how it will work with the master percussionist in the mix. Inspired by the scene, and with a desire to rehearse (and eventually record) his new quartet, in April ’97, Gräwe moves to Chicago for the spring and summer. The full group makes its triumphant first appearance in May at the Empty Bottle Festival of Jazz and Improvised Music, in Chicago, then plays again in July at Nickelsdorf Konfrontationen, in Austria. In between these two performances, both spectacularly rich and (for Gräwe followers especially) extremely surprising, the quartet storms the studios and produces the record you now hold in your hands. And as the group presently finishes its first European tour, the story continues... - John Corbett, Chicago, November 1997


Reviews Not intended for traditionalists, this exquisitely recorded disc should appeal to listeners with an ear for adventure. The musicians produce extremely alert, free-flowing improvisations, with Gräwe’s piano and Frank Gratkowski’s reeds striking a delicate balance with Hamid Drake’s percussion and Kent Kessler’s bass. Not surprisingly, the music owes as much to the classical European avant-garde as it does to cutting-edge Chicago jazz. But the merger of those idioms produces alluring, shimmering music packed with ideas.
— Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune, March 22, 1998

On Melodie und Rhythmus Grawe’s quartet plays with the rhythmic intricacy one would expect from a group powered by Hamid Drake and bassist Kent Kessler, and its sophisticated melodic sense is extended through sinuous lines, evolved by the pianist’s remarkable fluency, and matched by Frank Gratkowski’s agile and expressive clarinet and alto. The music is busy, but there is a lot of listening going on. It is a genuine group recording of rare attentiveness and responsiveness.

— Julian Cowley, The Wire, July 1998

**** (4 stars)

Just melody and rhythm, and a carefully bracketed emphasis on these dimensions. It may be that Gräwe has been thinking about Ornette Coleman’s groups. Certainly he avoids much emphasis on vertical improvisation, driving the group along the flat with a punchy, one-idea-at-a-time impetus. Drake is a very different kind of player from [Gerry] Hemingway, coming from a different percussion school and lacking either the rock-pumped force or the ability to drift out of time altogether. Kessler is now almost as ubiquitous as William Parker and he has much of Parker’s generous intelligence and ability to seed himself at the centre of big, busy structures and still maintain his function, a skill bequeathed to jazz by the great Charles Mingus. Listeners who have previously found that Gräwe is lacking in jazz content may enjoy better fortunes with this one.

— Richard Cook & Brian Morton, The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD, fifth edition