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Hans Glawischnig: Panorama

John Kelman By

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Despite the global nature of today's music, it might seem odd that a bassist named Hans Glawischnig has built a considerable reputation in the arenas of Central/South American-inflected jazz. But while the Austrian-born, New York-resident Glawischnig has indeed, spent considerable time with contemporary players stretching the boundaries of their cultures like pianist Luis Perdomo and alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón, as well as with the more traditional percussionist Ray Barretto, he's also worked on straight-ahead projects with artists like saxophonist James Moody.

Add to that mix his own classical background and Panorama—his second release as a leader—could easily become an unfocused mishmash of stylistic influences. It's to Glawischnig's credit that, while it is, indeed, an eclectic album of all-original compositions featuring players from across the jazz spectrum, it hangs together as a cogent and cohesive work, where the bassist's writing skills are on equal display with his inestimable abilities as soloist and rhythm section anchor.

While there are a number of guests, half the album features a consistent quartet of Zenón, Perdomo and drummer Johnathan Blake. Like Zenón and Perdomo, Glawischnig favors rhythmically and harmonically complex compositions, but that doesn't mean they place intellectualism over feel. "Line Drive" is a potent modal workout, with Zenón's visceral solo setting the bar high early in the set. Glawischnig's rich arco and Perdomo's classically-informed arpeggios provide an obliquely melodic lead-in to "The Orchids" which, once Zenón and Blake enter, turns knottier. Still, despite Blake's turbulent undercurrent, it's an overall lyrical piece, with Zenón's simmering solo countered by Perdomo's greater impressionism.

Perdomo, altoist David Binney, guitarist Ben Monder and drummer Antonio Sanchez provide an equally powerful quintet for the even more compositionally detailed "Gypsy Tales," but it's a different kind of energy. Binney is as unfettered as Zenón, but stays largely in the mid-range until the end of his solo, where his leap into the stratosphere is bolstered by Monder, who adopts an overdriven tone for a dense and electrically charged solo that may be the definition of abandon, but possesses its own inexorable logic. Sanchez's ability to navigate the most difficult of charts, while maintaining a propulsive groove and responding to the soloists around him, is mirrored by Glawischnig, whose robust tone acts as a focal point throughout the tune's occasional descent into near-anarchy.

Challenging charts may dominate Panorama, but on "Set to Sea" Glawischnig—and the Perdomo/Blake trio plus guest saxophonist Rich Perry—proves himself equally capable of lyrical simplicity and unadorned elegance. Chick Corea guests on two trio tracks with drummer Marcus Gilmore—the more sketch-like and lithe title track, and more bop-centric "Oceanography," with its bass/piano unison head and freely swinging vibe.

Throughout the set, Glawischnig is the glue that binds these three different settings (the more overtly Latinesque "Barretto's Way" also features the Binney/Perdomo/Sanchez line-up, but without Monder). Like fellow bassists Drew Gress and Scott Colley, with the start-to-finish compelling Panorama Glawischnig steps into a leadership role with the kind of confidence and astute musical choices that promise much more to come.

Track Listing: Line Drive; Panorama; The Orchids; Gypsy Tales; Set To Sea; Oceanography; Beneath the Waves; Barretto's Way; Rabbit Race.

Personnel: Hans Glawischnig: bass guitar; Ben Monder: guitar (4); David Binney: alto saxophone (4, 8); Miguel Zen

Title: Panorama | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records


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