Since moving to New York in the early nineties, Austrian-born bassist Hans Glawischnig has worked regularly with such esteemed artists as Bobby Watson, Maynard Ferguson and James Moody. Regular gigs with Latin jazz legends Ray Barretto and David Sanchez helped position Glawischnig as a stellar, if unlikely, interpreter of Afro-Latin traditions.
His debut album, Common Ground (Fresh Sounds, 2001), featured loose ensemble charts with ample room for individual expression. Panorama is a more compositionally intricate affair, revealing a plethora of moods and styles supported by harmonically complex structures.
Joined by an array of longstanding sidemen and fellow leaders, Glawischnig offers nine originals written to the strengths of his peers, studiously avoiding post-modern dilettantism through exceptional compositional focus.
Eclectic but cohesive, Glawischnig employs varied groupings of players over the course of the nine tunes, tinting impressionistic tone poems and modal post-bop explorations with subtle Latin touches and passionate lyricism.
The roiling modal excursion "Line Drive," opens the album on a high note, with Miguel Zenón's rapturous alto sax leading the way. Book-ended by Glawischnig's austere arco variations, "Orchids" unfurls with bittersweet neo-classical formalism, while the languid gospel of "Set To Sea" offers unadorned lyrical reflection from tenor saxophonist Rich Perry.
Lending some star-power, pianist Chick Corea demonstrates his unflagging, percussive finesse with Glawischnig and drummer Marcus Gilmore on two trio tunes, the lithe title track and the pneumatic bop of "Oceanography," based on the changes to "How Deep is the Ocean."
Surprisingly, considering his pedigree, "Barretto's Way" (dedicated to the master percussionist) is Glawischnig's only pure Latin tune. Introduced by the leader's breathtaking arco work, it rides a simmering bolero rhythm to a passionate climax.
The riotous "Gypsy Tales" explodes with such unfettered energy that it sounds like it was recorded at a different session entirely. An infectious Eastern European rhythm and knotty contrapuntal melody inspire blistering solos from alto saxophonist David Binney and guitarist Ben Monder, who unleashes a searing electric maelstrom. Drummer Antonio Sanchez and the leader hold the tune together with symbiotic rapport, injecting a shot of adrenaline into an otherwise stately album.
Appropriately titled, Panorama covers a wide range of conceptual territory, displaying Glawischnig's burgeoning abilities as a composer and player of merit. Here's one to keep an eye on.