In 1990, Austrian wunderkind composer, arranger, and flügelhornist Franz Koglmann composed a series of works for his quickly developing Pipetet of ten members and a special guest, piano god Ran Blake. There is more of Ellington and Basie in these compositions; their phrases are heard in the same wash as those of Shorty Rogers, Charles Mingus' pre-Bird band, and Jimmy Giuffre's (particularly on the quintet pieces). But as with all of Koglmann's work, there is also Schoenberg, Webern, Hindemith, and even Debussy and Satie. But all are passages mostly so transparent they aren't noticeable. This original version of "Slow Fox," which remains in the Pipetet 's repertoire to this day, cascades through streams of Milhaud and "Harlem Nocturne" before resolving its stridently European harmonic structure with a short series of question-like tone poems. In Johnny Carisi's "Israel," Koglmann's arrangement is based on the modal nature of the melody. The harmonic framework is disassembled and put back together slightly askew. It still has that lilting swing, but there are stutter steps up the ladder into the solo by Mario Arcari's oboe. Finally, in the 12-minute Blake original "The Short Life of Barbara Monk" capping the set, Koglmann matches Blake's sense of intimacy, understatement, and mystique with an arrangement that is part prelude and fugue, part symphonic tone poem, and part impressionist nocturne, while, at the same time, being firmly in Blake's grip melodically; his own flourishes and changes in meter and rhythm color the work a bit differently, but are no less emotionally riveting. It becomes the soundtrack to a film Truffaut never had the opportunity to direct as it sings, ever hauntingly into harmonic intervals, with a voice that is held in unison: that of an ensemble playing as one musician who breathes life into silence. Awesome.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek