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Stefan Bauer: Coast To Coast

Quite polished in their approach to contemporary jazz, vibist Bauer, trumpeter/fluegelhornist Kenny Wheeler, pianist Bernie Senensky, acoustic bassist Jim Vivian, and drummer Barry Rothberg engage ten originals and two standards in this reexamination of textural techniques first advanced in the 1970s, when fusion was all the rage. Everything is well plotted, highly ordered, and rubber gloved, as the intellectually conceived style demands, but to fully exploit the harmonic and structural challenges of the individual compositions and arrangements, there are also many opportunities for creative solo work by Bauer, Wheeler and Senensky.

Would that other survivors of the ’70s had also developed similar abilities in the area of swing, as here demonstrated on Bauer’s title tune, an up-tempo burner that features both vibes and piano, the Latinized “Corner Store Events,” the swinging “I Hear A Rhapsody,” and the way-up “Bizarre.” Both Wheeler and Senensky have been in the forefront for many years, but Bauer is relatively new and bears close watching for further developments. Like Senensky’s Evans-informed touch and voicings, the sound of Bauer’s vibes is an equally pleasing listening experience, and one that just might lead some newer listeners back to the sources.

Originally Published