The word Jahira, Hans Glawischnig explains in this album’s liner notes, is an acronym for jazz history roundabout—absorbing the past while scooting ahead—and that concept goes hand in glove with the model that specifically informs the recording: the small-combo setups of Sonny Rollins and Charlie Haden. Building the arrangements around the particular freedoms his acoustic bass guitar affords him, the Austrian-born Glawischnig, in a trio setting with tenor and soprano saxophonist Samir Zarif and drummer Eric Doob, aims for and attains simplicity, clarity and directness throughout these nine tracks. Not a passage is superfluous, and although it’s essentially sparse, Jahira is abounding and full-bodied.
Melody is the propeller here; Glawischnig isn’t as interested in anchoring as he is in serving as co-lead with Zarif, whose lines are alternately burly and downy. Doob is a rock of a timekeeper, never getting pushy and contributing precise and tidy drumming. In “Crow Point,” one of Glawischnig’s six compositions, a propulsive, repetitive bass sets the direction, Doob dutifully doubling up the rhythm; Zarif enters tentatively, and only when he decides for certain where to take it does Glawischnig break out. Deeper they go and tougher they get; and when Zarif unexpectedly drops out midway, not to return until the track’s nearly spent, it seems in retrospect the right thing to do: It was bass/drums time.
On Bud Powell’s “Celia”—along with Zarif’s “Once I Hesitate” and Sam Rivers’ “Beatrice” the only cut not composed by the leader—it’s Glawischnig’s turn to lay back and let the other two open up. When the bassist emerges from the shadows with his solo, it’s so well framed and bursting with color you find yourself wishing he’d ride out the track with it, though he’s smart enough not to. Jahira is a textbook lesson in how to make so little feel like so much.