The quartet of composers/improvisers that makes up Habarigani plays brass, woodwinds, reeds, and some percussion -- as well as an accordion. Simply put, each member -- Hans Kennel, Roland Dahinden, Thomas Eckert, and Hans Hassler -- compose pieces of the ensemble that involve four elements: some drama, a narrative where all players are present in the stating of a theme, an improvisation by one or all members inside a predefined space, and a resolve that is not in any way set in stone, but is arrived at by group consensus. This might seem a limiting recipe to follow, but given that each man plays a minimum of three instruments, the palette of color and texture -- not to mention chromatics -- is virtually limitless. Perhaps the best example of this is where Kennel's "Un Poco Troppo" completely contains Thelonious Monk's "Epistrophy," but does not envelop or swallow it. The group resolves the Monk issue with humor and swinging ebullience that pushes toward the midpoint in the work; both pieces sit side by side and co-exist until they both become one new piece, and the Monk continuum is preserved without being held as an icon to be subservient to. Dhahinden's "Hexenglut" is a different kind of work where very specific directions (and regards to aggregation in which section) are painfully spelled out -- but then, he's used to playing John Cage's and Morton Feldman's scores so it's no surprise. Finally, the beautiful ballad by Hassler, "Ballade pour Brillantine," takes phrases and entire lines from three jazz classics and winds them into a dialogue of extended space and unresolved tension until the steam is let out by melodic invention. A fine debut work that is fascinating and confused at the same time.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek