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Frank Gratkowski

Born in Hamburg in 1963, Frank Gratkowski is one of the most prolific saxophone and clarinet players worldwide. He studied with Heiner Wiberny, Charlie Mariano, Sal Nistico, and Steve Lacy. Frank Gratkowski has toured worldwide as a soloist and has collaborated with musicians such as Robert Dick, Ray Anderson, Michael Moore, Ken Vandermark, Kenny Wheeler, Louis Sclavis, John Betsch, Jane Ira Bloom, Conny Bauer, James Newton, Muhal Richard Abrams, John Lindberg, Ernst Reijseger, Fred van Hove, Theo Jörgensmann, Phil Minton, Peter Brötzmann, Hamid Drake, Han Bennink, Mal Waldron, Misha Mengelberg—to name just a few. He has worked as a soloist with music groups all over the world, like Grubenklang Orchester, Klaus Koenig Orchester, Musikfabrik NRW, Tony Oxley Celebration Orchestra, WDR Big band,… 

Photo: Udo Siegfriedt

He won the Musik Kreativ contest in 1991 with his first solo CD and was awarded the SWR Jazz Prize in 2005 for his work with the Frank Gratkowski Double Quartet. As a composer Frank received commissions from international festivals such as “November Music” (Den Bosch, NL) and the “Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival” (UK). His microtonal saxophone quartet Fo[u]r Alto has been performed worldwide. Frank has been playing with zeitkratzer since 2003. 

Frank’s main instruments are alto saxophone and bass clarinet, but he also plays clarinet and has, since 2017, rediscovered his flutes. His alto saxophone is a Selmer Reference '54, his bass clarinet is also made by Selmer (model 37, deep C), as is his Bb clarinet: Series 10S. Frank’s contrabass clarinet is a Le Blanc "Paper Clip" (low C) and he plays Yamaha flutes, model YFL-677-H, silver tube, B-Foot; an alto flute by Perl with a silver head; and a bass flute by Kotato & Fukushima Typ II (E-mechanism, silver tube, B-Foot).