Frank Gratkowski/Jacob Anderskov Ardent Grass

This is unabashedly music for intellectuals. Multiple reed player Gratkowski brings a commanding fluidity to every improvisation. His tone on alto sax is more classical than jazz, which may throw some improv aficionados off. They shouldn't let it, as his unflagging pantonal/atonal melodic creativity will reward repeated listening. Danish pianist Jacob Anderskov impressively keeps pace with his better-known colleague. From the opening ten-minute "Narrative," the keyboardist is an equal partner in the rapidly unfolding explorations. Anderskov hears and understands where Gratkowski is coming from and responds rapidly to pitch shifts, rhythmic typologies and shadings of dynamics. Gratkowski's bass clarinet on "Diagnose" resounds with a robust, woody resonance that Anderskov mirrors, picking up its upper frequency harmonics and working with them using icy tinkles ― thrillingly evocative. Gratkowski gets down with his bad self, letting loose with a barrage of multiphonics, growls and squeals on "Ardent Grass" while his partner lays down a ceaseless low-end bombardment of his own as counterfoil. In total, this disc is serious music by utterly sincere expert improvisers. (Red Toucan)