Paul Grabowski

(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
Krentz Ratings:
The Massacre of the Egos (2007), 7/10
Funcall (2008), 7/10
NTRPDN (2011), 6/10

Australian pianist Paul Grabowski formed a quartet with trumpeter Scott Tinkler that recorded The Scott Tinkler Quartet (february 1994), The Back Of My Head and Hop To The Cow and the live Tinkler, Rex, Grabowsky, Edie (2006).

Grabowski is also part of the Antripodean Collective (with Tinkler, Philip Rex on bass, Ken Edie on drums and founder John Rodgers on violin) that is documented on The Massacre of the Egos (september 2007 - Extreme, 2008). The nine-minute A Strange State of Minds is emblematic. The swinging and rhapsodic piano figures turn stormy and dissonant when the violin enters. The trumpet interrupts their dialogue and leads to a dissolute fanfare-like conclusion. The seven-minute The Totally Unconscious opens with the trumpet mumbling notes over percussive sounds of violin, bass and drums. Its soliloquy gets quite hysterical against the increased turbulence of the other instruments (joined by an equally percussive piano), but tense drones of violin shut everybody up. Those drones lead into the twelve-minute The Very Conscious, still largely dominated by the disjointed dialogue between violin and trumpet. However the second half of the piece embraces a jovial rhythm for a collective upheaval. The 19-minute The Need to Have the Last Say returns to the expressionistic collision of sounds, with the piano finally centerpiece. Trumpet, piano and violin engage in some complex but driving interplay that climaxes with some devilish piano fluttering. The 18-minute Conference of the Baboons indulges in frantic timbric cacophony before rediscovering a bit of swing harmony and pseudo-melody, and before settling for a melancholy mood with then trumpet mumbling over Far Eastern plucking and strumming. The closing ten-minute The External Struggle the most pensive piece, testing the ears with extreme violin sounds while endearing the heart with tender piano notes. The "struggle" of the title seems to end in peaceful resignation as all instruments quit playing without quite reaching a consensus.

The collective's Funcall (Extreme, 2008) opens with the anguished trumpet cry of Tagbody. The 19-minute Block hints at a circus-like motif before delving into a disjointed version of noir jazz. The unique style of the quartet is well represented here: it often sounds like the musicians are not really playing together but each on his own, and, still, they find a way to make sense, and even to evoke a specific genre. The dissonant glissandoes that open the 16-minute Gethash set the tone for the languid, suspenseful and unstable piano-dominated atmosphere; however, the second part falls into the same quicksands of erratic and stuttering interplay of Block, and, if possible, with even more indifference towards the canons of group improvisation. The nine-minute Dribble is the most laconic piece on the album, so much so that at times it sounds like the musicians are tired of playing. It's the ultimate aesthetic statement by a quartet that refuses to relax.

The Antripodean Collective's NTRPDN (MarchOn, 2011) contains two unscripted improvisations influenced by Elliott Carter: One (32:20) and Two (38:55).

(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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