Inferring that his Germany-based trio is a multitasking machine would be an understatement. With a fleet of instruments at their disposal, the compositions are largely sinuous, vastly complex, and highly coordinated. The musicians toggle between instruments to alter the pitch, accent the rhythms or whirl through complex unison choruses while adding wit and whimsy into the grand schema. Pianist David Helbock provides one composition, yet the program is fabricated around works by Thelonious Monk and legendary Brazilian composer Hermeto Pascoal.
The trio enacts Pascoal's "Musica das Nuvens e do Chao," like a mini-suite amid shifting reinventions of the principal melody. They kick it off with a surreal approach and dissect the familiar theme into chunks, then open it up with conventional phrasings via soft horns and Helbock's linear block chord progressions. Here, Johannes Bar enlists the bass element with his baritone horn as Andreas Broger's blithe flute lines over the top spawn the customarily cheerful aura of Brazilian music. But the musicians periodically toggle between instruments to generate subtle hues and textures. In a loose sense, they impart a sleight of hand mystique akin to a magician, where semblances of a larger ensemble come to fruition. The group also varies the pulse throughout, as Helbock's lush piano solo ends with a dark and somewhat dour chord. Hence, a rather astonishing trio that is purportedly a dazzling live act.