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Christoph Stiefel: Sweet Paradox

Austrian pianist and composer Christoph Stiefel displays an engaging versatility and style on his latest recording, a trio date that clearly has his imprint from start to finish, whether doing some straightahead on “Be-Bob Sally,” flexing his improv chops on the title tune, or settling in for some evocative lyricism. Joining Stiefel on the date are Michel Benita on double bass and drummer Peter Erskine, whose percussion chops are evident throughout; both of them make things happen on Stiefel’s “Gnome Dance.” Stiefel’s play is characterized by melodic and sensual voicings, brought to life with a deft, light touch. There is nothing bombastic about his style, and combined with Erskine and Benita, the result is an hour of music that is interesting and consistently fresh. Stiefel’s work as a composer is equally as varied. Inspired by both classical and new age genres, his opening tune, “Speaking to You,” is a delicate painting that moves from introspection to toe-tapping invention. A keyboard sideman for new age star Andreas Vollenweider for five years, Stiefel, now a leader, knows how to hold interest, how to sell a tune, and how to communicate with his trio mates. Stiefel has crafted an artistic winner, on the heels of his previous release, Ancient Longing, also on Jazzline. Sweet Paradox should merit him considerable success.

Originally Published