biography

Frank Gratkowski was born in Hamburg in 1963 and studied at the Cologne University of Music and Dance. He has extended his instrumental skills to include almost the entire spectrum of woodwind instruments, including flutes. He works intensively on tonal extensions and modifications of his instruments in solo projects and small formations using unorthodox playing techniques and microtonal concepts, some of which he has developed himself. As a bandleader and composer, he traverses the broad context of contemporary improvised music. There is no clear distinction between composition and improvisation in his work.

While still a student, Gratkowski worked with trombonist and composer Klaus K├Ânig, as part of Georg Graewe’s GrubenKlangOrchester and in the WDR Big Band. In 1995 he formed the Frank Gratkowski Trio with Dieter Manderscheid on bass and Gerry Hemingway on drums. They were joined in 2000 by Dutch trombonist Wolter Wierbos. Since 2001 he has been part of a trio with Achim Kaufmann on piano and Wilbert de Joode on bass. With his first solo program, he was an award-winner at the “Musik kreativ” competition. As a soloist, he has released the thus far three-part CD series “Artikulationen” (1991, 2000, 2023). In 2008 the experimental saxophone quartet “Fo[u]r Alto” was formed. He is a co-founder of the Multiple Joy[ce] Orchestra, for which he also composes. In the past few years, he has increasingly collaborated with musicians of the younger generation, currently for example in the quartet The Resonators.

Gratkowski has played as a soloist, bandleader or sideman at the most important German and numerous international festivals. Among other things, he has performed with a trio at the Donaueschinger Festival, was commissioned to create a composition for the ensemble Zeitkratzer in 2014, was improviser in residence at the Austrian new music festival “Klangspuren” in 2021, and worked as a soloist with the orchestra of the Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR). At the November Music festival in Den Bosch and the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, he performed with the ensemble Apartment House, for which he wrote a commissioned composition. After his work “Mature Hybird Talking” for and with Ensemble Modern in 2022, he worked with Ensemble Musikfabrik in 2023.

Under his own name, Frank Gratkowski has released around 50 CDs, as a sideman he has been involved in an unknown number of additional productions. In 2005 he received the prestigious SWR Jazz Prize.

Frank Gratkowski lives in Berlin. He has taught at conservatories in Arnhem, Hanover, Berlin and currently Cologne, and has extensive international experience as a university lecturer and workshop leader.