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Stefan Bauer: Silent Witness

Glenn Astarita By

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Vibraphonist and multi-instrumentalist Stefan Bauer owns an impressive and diverse resume, especially at the educational level. Born in Germany, Bauer has also taken up residency in Canada.

Bauer possesses a smooth touch while displaying compelling doses of lyricism, sure-handed control and technique. Most of all, Bauer flaunts his well-schooled approach and challenges the listener with inventive compositions and rhythmic structures. Bauer dabbles with midi-controllers and programmed percussion; yet, doesn’t abuse digital electronics within the scope of his pieces. This old trap has often branded ill advised and less than desirable results for many jazz musicians. Bauer mixes it up rather well; hence, “Silent Witness” is a multifaceted project, which incorporates explorations of fusion, world, mainstream and modern jazz. Bauer does a good job of maintaining a unique and personal sound while borrowing from other concepts and influences.

On the opener “Chimere” Bauer utilizes his arsenal of Vibes, Midi, Marimba and keyboards. Bauer leads the band through demanding and structured rhythmic movements, under-pinning the soaring Soprano and Alto-Sax work of the legendary Charlie Mariano. Bauer and co. explore cross-cultural settings while seeking new horizons. “Chimere” is a bright, gleeful and upbeat piece featuring some enthusiastic percussion exercises from Christoph Haberer and Ramesh Shotham. A minor beef here might be the recorded sound of Mariano’s Sax. His overall sound seems equalized or engineered too high; thus, sounding somewhat tinny and metallic. A minor complaint that doesn’t kill the tune but becomes apparent or a little too obvious at times. “Blueseoul” finds Bauer employing programmed rhythms, vibes and synths serving as the underlying framework for a warm and lightly swinging “blues motif. Here, Bauer prevails while displaying his total command of the Vibes as the lead instrument. Ag! ain, Bauer shows off his enormous technique yet excels at delighting the listener with his keen penchant for nuance and subtly. Stefan Bauer is a fierce and dynamic vibraphonist yet at times, plays so soft and graceful one wonders if he could break eggs with his mallets. On “Beyond The Beyond” Bauer and co. construct a dreamlike atmosphere with gradual and steady increments of percussion crescendos. Bauer creates soundscapes of glistening timbre and vivid imagery. “Warndat, die n: 14 ? “ is reminiscent of late 1970’s Weather Report. Here, Bauer works through difficult time changes utilizing Vibes, Midi, Sequencing and Electronic Percussion. This track succeeds in emulating a “band feel”.

“Silent Witness” has a lot to offer. Bauer’s education, compositional prowess, practical experience and superb musicianship accounts for an abundant array of pleasantries found on this recording. Stefan Bauer will more than likely position himself as a much in demand session musician and leader. His versatility is apparent and commendable while the band is in top-notch form throughout. If you want to hear something that’s different yet very palatable, check out “Silent Witness”. Ordering and contact information via email: moehogue@pangea.ca or check the website: http://www.mbnet.mb.ca/~mcgonig/bauer/


Personnel:

Stefan Bauer; Vibes, Marimba, kat Midi-Controller, Percussion, Sequencing, Piano, Keyboards: Charlie Mariano; Saxes: Matthias Nadoiny; Tenor Sax: Ramesh Shotham; Percussion: Christoph Haberer; Drums, Drum Programming: Volker Heinze; Bass: Thomas Alkier; Drums.

Title: Silent Witness | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Page Music

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