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Frank Gratkowski 

When the heavyweights come to town -- even the ones who few have heard of -- it is of utmost urgency that they be seen, heard and discussed. Saxophonist Frank Gratkowski is such a heavyweight. Based in Germany, Gratkowski has recorded many great CDs with his groups and the cream of European and American improvisers including Mal Waldron, Peter Brotzmann, Ken Vandermark and Hamid Drake. He has a full sound and his tunes go from skronk funk to bebop to Eric Dolphy-type tunes to collective improvisations that can sound like any of the New Orleans bands of the 1920s and '30s set in a modern context. He has a full schedule this week following a Monday night gig at Chickie Wa Wa. He'll be joined by Helen Gillet at the Sound Cafe Tuesday. Wednesday takes him to the Hi Ho Lounge to play with Rob Cambre and friends. He concludes at Snug Harbor on Thursday with Brian Coogan (piano), Rick Trolsen (trombone) and Dave Capello (drums). The multiple gigs allow for some serious music and exposure to the man in different contexts. Gratkowski, like his music, will be all over the map. Ticket prices vary. -- David Kunian

7 p.m. Tue., March 13

Sound CafŽ, 2700 Chartres St., 947-4477

10:30 p.m. Wed., March 14

Hi Ho Lounge, 2239 St. Claude Ave., 945-4446

8 p.m. & 10 p.m. Thu., March 15

Snug Harbor, 626 Frenchmen St., 949-0696:

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