Swiss trumpeter/composer Peter Schärli leads his Special Sextet on this release, with two well-respected Americans -- Glenn Ferris (trombone) and Tom Varner (French horn) -- receiving special billing on the album cover. Pianist Hans Feigenwinter is also a strong presence, both as a soloist and composer; he contributes the odd-metered "Kran" and the grooving "Alone at Home," two of the strongest tracks. A pair of short Tom Varner pieces, "Nuk'em Tony" and "Just Call Me Hans," bookend the play list and send the group into unorthodox, playful terrain. Interestingly, Schärli's originals are generally the most "inside"; they are the minor blues "Dark Nights," the swinging "Neustadt 27" and "Schneefelder," and the haunting, chorale-like "Requiem für die Unschuld." Schärli also includes a rendition (sans rhythm section) of Richie Beirach's "Broken Wing," a song once played by the late Chet Baker. Throughout, the trombone, French horn, and trumpet/flugelhorn create an arresting brass palette. Feigenwinter, bassist Thomas Dürst, and drummer Beatrice Graf revel in playing off of this unusual front line.
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