Hamid Drake and Frank Gratkowski first performed together in Georg Gräwe Quartet in 1996. Since then they have become fast friends and occasional collaborators, but not until their long weekend visit to New Orleans in March, 2009 did they have an opportunity to record together. New Orleans may have little standing in the “Creative Music” world, other than as the home of free jazz icon Kidd Jordan, but over the last 15 years it has become a favored destination for all sorts of performers from this world. Not only are they as likely to find an audience here as anywhere else, they respond to the improvisatory and creative spirit of America’s most Afro-centric metropolis. Hamid and Frank have both been frequent visitors these past 10 years. [Hamid recorded a memorable New Orleans cd with Rob Wagner and Nobu Ozaki shortly after Hurricane Katrina (Valid VR-1013.)] Their joy in being in New Orleans hanging out together is captured by this spirited recording.
Hamid Drake has been a frequent collaborator in free improv drum/reed settings with Fred Anderson, Peter Brötzmann, and Mats Gustafson, and Frank Gratkowski is an award winning solo performer. Their experience, and their formidable array of extended techniques, served them well in this expansive display. The concert was recorded at Piety Street Recording in front of 60 souls, but the musicians were in no way inhibited by the presence of the microphones; Hamid was so comfortable he had a 20 minute conversation with the audience in the middle of the second set– something that would probably not occur in New York or Berlin but didn’t raise an eyebrow in more spacious New Orleans.
FRANK GRATKOWSKI is one of the brightest talents on the lively European creative music scene. In addition to his work with Gräwe, he maintains a quartet with Dieter Manderscheid, Gerry Hemingway, and Wolter Wierbos, and a trio with Wilbert de Joode and Achim Kaufmann. Like Hamid Drake, Gratkowski has performed with a “who’s who” list of leading American and European improvisers.
HAMID DRAKE is the one of the greatest drummers of his generation. His list of associations is immense and immensely varied: stars such as Don Cherry, David Murray, Herbie Hancock, Pharaoh Sanders, and Bill Laswell; creative music legends Peter Brotzmann, Misha Mengelberg, Ken Vandermark, Fred Anderson, and William Parker; New Orleans own Kidd Jordan and Rob Wagner; and world music and reggae performers Foday Musa Suso, Sister Carol, the I-Tals, and the Heptones. He brings to every project tremendous commitment and spirit, and he has the rare ability to find freedom in the groove and the groove in free time and space.
VALID RECORDS is an independent label dedicated to presenting the creative possibilities of the New Orleans music scene. Music that responds to the moment yet points a better way into the future will always be valid; to face the challenges confronting post-Katrina New Orleans, it is now essential. “The Valid recordings are satisfyingly uncommon, documenting a New Orleans jazz noticeably removed from the “official” versions . . . [They] challenge any homogeneous notion of the city’s sound, and open up the rigid, archival sensibility to which 'N’Awlins jazz' is too often confined." — CODA Magazine