Franz Koglmann

Schlaf Schlemmer, Schlaf Magritte

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The title of this early recording by Franz Koglmann's maddeningly fine Pipetet translates as "Sleep Schlemmer, Sleep Magritte." As has become a custom for Koglmann, his inspirations dot his musical landscape and sometimes drape themselves over its boundaries. Already at this early stage, Koglmann was moving further against the notion of "free jazz," creating a formal compositional method of old and new elements that included the need for a chamber jazz orchestra to play his original work. Koglmann's sense of harmony was also very complex at this early stage, as witnessed by the beautiful "The Moon Is Hiding in Her Hair," based on a poem by E.E. Cummings. His arrangement is taken, in equal part from Shorty Rogers and Stan Kenton, but the twelve-tone intervals in the middle of the piece are purely Viennese. Elsewhere on the title track, gorgeous swing and blues harmonies are enveloped by the outrageousness of a band destroying itself over complex polyphony and military marches run amok. But the true wonder on the album is saved for last, the four movement "Tanzmusick Für Paszstückem" based on a poem by Franz West. Here Koglmann employs a first movement constructed from a prelude for chamber jazz ensemble rich in somber hues and satiny textures. Next is a purely jazz ballad with solos by Robert Michael Weiss and Roberto Ottaviano. Here, Bill Evans is evoked in all his melodic richness, but it belongs to Koglmann too, and the way he phrases his lyric lines for the horn section is so elegant it's almost heartbreaking. But here is where Koglmann's perverse genius reveals itself: His third movement is purely a twelve-tone construct, sterile and mechanical after all the lush balladry and blessed-out pageantry. Finally, he redeems it all while pushing the envelope further by ending with a raggedy waltz begun by Ottaviano wailing to break free of the serialist mode. As the band enters -- via the tuba -- and glibly takes the waltz drunkenly home to bed, the piece and record concludes with more questions than resolutions. Thank God.

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