Release tour Germany 2014 for VOYAGE’s new CD:
G E O G R A P H I A
Michal Cohen – voice (Tel Aviv)
Chris Bacas – soprano,tenor sax (NY)
Stefan Bauer – vibes/marimba (NY/GDR)
Pepe Berns – bass (Berlin)
Roland Schneider – drums (Berlin)
For his ensemble, Voyage, vibraphonist Stefan Bauer surrounds himself with musicians who share his inclusive aesthetic and who play with inspired ease and intensity. As a composer and conceptualist, vibraphonist Stefan Bauer favors the quintet format because it allows for manifold color-combinations and intimate formats (solos, duos, trios) yet powerful ‘tutti’ playing, while maintaining flexibility for interaction with enough individual space and personal appeal to take an audience along on a journey.
The remarkable Israeli singer, Michal Cohen, contributes greatly to Voyage’s distinctive sound with her middle-eastern timbre and her outstanding capacities as an ensemble member as well as an improviser. Powerful saxophonist Chris Bacas, a veteran of the Artie Shaw, Tommy Dorsey and Buddy Rich Big Bands of the 80′s, is now a fixture of numerous NY cutting-edge formations. His stirring solos are as indispensable for Voyage as are his expressive musical dialogues with the voice – a formative element of Voyage‘s music. Virtuoso bassist Pepe Berns – backbone and driving force for the multifaceted and demanding music of Voyage – proves to be one of Europe’s finest bassists, while European drummer Roland Schneider combines the sensitivity of a sound sculptor with a firm rhythmical grip, forged in a decade and a half in NYC. Stefan Bauer, “one of the best mallet players on the international scene” (Percussion Creativ) and “a player of no uncertain gifts, strong in the technique and introspective feeling” (Jazziz), completes this strong cast of musicians with his dynamic playing and subtle musical leadership the result being a notable, interactive ensemble with a distinctive sound.
An invitation extended to Voyage by the International Jazz Festival in Moers/Germany 2006 resulted in several concert tours in Germany, to an invitation to the Jazzkaar Festival/ Estonia ’08 (in co-operation with the Goethe-Institute) with a memorable concert at the Russian Theatre in Tallinn, and a recent tour of Germany that enjoyed the support of the province of North-Rhine-Westphalia and the car company Škoda, including a live-broadcast by West German Radio during the International Jazz Festival Hamm 2012. The first CD ‘Voyage’ was released in 2008, the second CD ‘G E O G R A P H I A’ has been released in November of 2013 in Europe, both by JazzHausMusik.de
The genesis of Voyage was based on an invitation to the Jazz festival Moers 2006 in honor of Cologne vibraphonist Christoph Eidens, who had died the year before and whose instrument Bauer continues to play.
During a visit to New York, the new artistic director, Reiner Michalke, commissioned Bauer to put together an ensemble with original music. In search of musicians who would share the idea of a balance between ensemble music and solos, Bauer immediately thought of Chris Bacas who, the very first time he heard him with drummer Phil Haynes, blew the roof off the top of a jam session in Brooklyn. Bauer’s connection with Michal Cohen, who by then was still living in NY, was a shared teaching job at the ‘Singers Forum’ in Manhattan. During the last of his 15 years in NY drummer Roland Schneider and Bauer met for weekly, free-style duo sessions at the Brooklyn Conservatory. Bassist Pepe Berns was recommended to him by vibraphonist David Friedman.
All of them have in common a desire for a collective sound, which is reflected in Bauer’s, Cohen’s, Bacas’ and from time to time in compositions ‘from the outside’ (for instance from India), and also through sporadic, entirely free, collective vignettes.
The name Voyage came about intuitively, both as Bauer’s interpretation of Eiden’s untimely passing, as well as programmatically for the music.
Bauer’s joy and interest in different cultures is paralleled by his desire to use music as a vehicle for borderless travel.
Membership in such diverse bands as Tyree Glenn Jr.’s R & B Band (on trombone!, ) various formations of (famous musical comedian) Helge Schneider’s (as pianist), the free concept of Eckhard Koltermann’s Collage 11, multiple productions during the 80s initiated/supported by the very active West-German Radio producer Ullrich Kurth (with Vinnie Golia, the Saxophon Mafia, Elima from Zaïre, the Gamelan Project, the Klaus Koenig Orchestra a.o.), the Trio of the M-Base precursor, drummer Doug Hammond, the “Neue Deutsche Welle” Band ‘Palais Schaumburg’, the Uli Beckerhoff Group, Christoph Haberer’s forward looking percussion ensemble “Drümmele Maa” and many others have given Bauer enough inspiration, experience and knowledge for his own projects. For instance the “Stefan Bauer Band” (Matthias Nadolny – ts, Tim Wells – bass, Thomas Alkier – dr) with its European harmony and its American, groove-oriented sound-language was seen as a ‘cult-band’ in the Ruhr-Valley area in Germany.
Simultaneously, travels in far-away countries (often in co-operation with the Goethe-Institute) and musical encounters and adventures there left deep impressions on Bauer, providing additional and rich sources of inspiration, documented for instance on his CD “Lingo” which led to a second invitation to Africa. At that point already a part of Germany’s history of Jazz, Bauer was struck by wanderlust following a seven-week tour of ten African countries. That led him and his Ethiopian wife to Canada and memorable experiences. After more than a decade there, two children, and several CD’s, the family moved to Brooklyn, NY. There, Bauer plans his musical journeys, both at home and often and gladly to Europe.