The third issue in the Hat's wondrous Habarigani recordings is the best one yet. Focusing on the outrageously diverse elements of its construction, Hans Kennel directs this group that moves in all directions at once. There are originals, of course, as the set opens with Kennel's off-the-plant tribute to Bud Powell entitled "Un Poco Troppo" that uses Powell's own tropes to restate the harmonic angularities of bebop's original vanguard. Also included is a man held in reverence by Kennel, native Swiss composer Jacques Siron (who has five compositions performed here). Kennel and bandmate Tom Varner compose with an avant-garde sensibility that comes as much from the 14th century's Ars Nova to the iconoclastic '70s school of jazz improvisation. Of course there are also radical rearrangements of Thelonious Monk ("Monk's Mood," "Little Rootie Tootie," and a minute of "Evidence") that incorporate Arnold Schoenberg and Mingus. Add to this the modal constructivism of Miles Davis and Gil Evans on "Boplicity," and top it off with a sense of humor only a brass band could conjure, and you get no idea what this sounds like! Suffice to say, the music on this disc is sophisticated and fun. With the changing dynamics and colors in Kennel's arrangement of "Little Rootie Tootie," you have to strive to make the changes fit the tune in your ears, and then the Siron's "La Valse," which operates from the location of the waltz as a revolutionary concept in rhythmic invention. Also the sheer outrageousness of the tonal distortions in "Boplicity" suggest that the tune is not a modal construction at all, but a Buddy Rich big-band jam on psychedelics. What it means, of course, is nothing but that this is a Habarigani record, one that uses all textures, colors, intervals, and dramatics to make a music that is full of warmth, innovation, and a perversity that would be admired by Frank Zappa. This is jazz played by a group of musicians who also believe in music as a force for expressing and experiencing joy. But what are they saying? Who cares? They already said it.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek