Alto saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet, contrabass clarinet, composition
Born in Hamburg, 1963. Started playing the saxophone at 16 and, following a period at the Hamburg Conservatory of music, moved in 1985 to study at the Cologne Conservatory of Music with Heiner Wiberny, graduating in 1990. Since 2008 he lives also in Berlin.
Further studies with Charlie Mariano, Sal Nistico and Steve Lacy.
Frank Gratkowski has been working as a soloist in various international formations (Grubenklang Orchester, Apartment House, Musikfabrik NRW, Tony Oxley Celebration Orchestra, BikBentBraam, Zeitkratzer, WDR Orchestra, WDR Big band, etc.). Since 1990 he has been giving solo performances throughout Europe, Canada and USA. With his first solo program, he was a 1991 prizewinner in the Musik Kreativ contest. The release of the solo CD "Artikulationen" followed the same year and a new one "ArikulationenII" in 2002.
Since 1992 he has been working in a duo with the pianist Georg Graewe (CD "VicissEtudes"). The duo is often extended through the participation of different additional musicians, such as drummer Paul Lovens (CD "Quicksand") and bassist John Lindberg (CD "Arrears").
In 1995 he founded the "Frank Gratkowski Trio" with Dieter Manderscheid (Germany), bass, and Gerry Hemingway (USA), drums, (CDs "Gestalten" and "The Flume Factor" ). In 2000 the trio has been extended to a quartet by Dutch trombonist Wolter Wierbos (CDs "Kollaps", "Spectral Reflections" and "Facio"). Since 2003 also appearing as a Double Quartet plus Tobi Delius, Herb Robertson, Wilbert DeJoode and Michael Vatcher. In 2005 he got the SWR Jazzprize. 2001 the Trio Kaufmann / Gratkowski / DeJoode has been founded (CDs "Kwast" , "Unearth" and "Palaë") and from 2004 he has been co leading and composing for the James Joyce Orchestra which turned in 2008 into the Multiple Joy[ce] Orchestra. Since 2006 he’s working with the Trio Gratkowski / Brown / Winant (CD “Wake”), which played in 2009 at the Donaueschinger Musiktage. He is also a co-leader of the Multiple Joy[ce] Orchestra and got in got a commission to compose a piece for the ensemble Apartment House by “November Music “ (Den Bosch NL) and the “Huddersfield Comtemporary Music Fesitival” (England) in 2009.
Frank Gratkowski played on nearly every German and on numerous international Jazz and New Music Festivals including Vancouver, Toronto, Chicago, New York, Seattle, Quebec, Les Mans, Muelhuus, Groeningen, Nickelsdorf, Barcelona, Lithuania, Warsaw, Zagreb, Prague, Bratislava, Sofia, Bucharest, Odessa, Belgrad, Madrid, Barcelona, Göteborg, Huddersfield, London and Roma.
He has been teaching saxophone, ensemble and composition at the Cologne, and Arnhem Conservatory of Music and is giving workshops all around the world.
Furthermore he has performed with Robert Dick, Phil Wachsmann, Radu Malfatti, Herb Robertson, Marcio Mattos, Eugenio Colombo, Peter Kowald, Ray Anderson, Michael Moore, Ken Vandermark, Greg Osby, Kenny Wheeler, Louis Sclavis, John Betsch, Jane Ira Bloom, Connie and Hannes Bauer, Xu Fengxia, James Newton, Muhal Richard Abrams, John Lindberg, Michael Formaneck, Ernst Reijseger, Fred van Hove, Theo Jörgensmann, Phil Minton, Peter Brötzmann, Mark Dresser, Mark Feldman, Hamid Drake, Michiel Braam, Han Bennink, Zeena Parkins, Mal Waldron, Misha Mengelberg a.m.o.