About Stefan Bauer

Photo: Herbert Klaas

Stefan Bauer is active as a vibraphone/marimba player and as a composer in a wide field between tradition and avant-garde. He grew up in Recklinghausen/Germany playing classical piano from age five, and as of age fifteen he became part of local jazz-fusion bands also playing trombone which he eventually studied at masters level at Hochschule für Musik Detmold/Dortmund. In 1976 he started playing vibes on his own and quickly connected with musicians in the Ruhr Area, especially with musicians of “Trademark” (Matthias Nadolny – ts, Wolfgang Jungekrüger – p, Bodo Klingelhöfer – b and Michael Peters – dr) as well as Tyree Glenn junior and multi-instrumentalist Helge Schneider. In 1977 he met vibraphonist David Friedman whose encouraging mentorship and invitation for a brief stay in New York had great motivational impact. During a summer semester at Berklee College of Music in Boston 1978 he took lessons with vibist/educator Ed Saindon. Bauer played his first professional gigs with bassist Reinhard Glöder (and drummers Frank Koellges, Thomas Cremer, later Joe Thoenes, and saxophonist Jesse Bennet, later M. Nadolny) in 1978. As part of the “Modellversuch Popularmusik” in Hamburg Bauer had a few lessons with Tom van der Geld and Wolfgang Schlüter who gave him the opportunity to sub for him in the NDR Big Band in Hamburg. This stay also led to Bauer’s temporary membership in the neue-deutsche-Welle Band “Palais Schaumburg” and his participation in their LP “Lupa”. In the early 1980ies he founded his own formations with musicians such as Christof Lauer, Peter Bockius, Michael Kersting, Stefan Kremer, Peter Eisold, Alex Sputh, Achim Kraemer, Gunnar Plümer and others. He also was invited to work with Rachel Gould, Siggi Busch, Alan Blairman, Uli Beckerhoff, Theo Jörgensmann, the Vienna Art Orchestra, the NDR Bigband/Lucas Schmid, Doug Hammond Trio, Vinny Golia, Eckard Koltermann, Klaus König and many others. In 1984 he became the co-founder of drummer/conceptualist Christoph Haberer’s “Drümmele Maa” (with percussionist Michael Peters and keyboarder Fried Bauer, LP “Villa Rhododendron”) which later became a trio with the South-Indian percussionist Ramesh Shotham with whom the band toured Europe and India, and in 1993 played a number of concerts with singer Greetje Bijmsma. Bauer’s quartet with Nadolny, Tim Wells and Thomas Alkier had enjoyed attention in the 1980’s, toured several times with the legendary Swedish trombonist Eje Thelin and played a few concerts with singer Norma Winstone. In 1987 Bauer was part of a tour of ten African countries with Haberer and percussionist Peters, initiated by the German Cultural Institute (Goethe Institute). One of the highlights was a concert with master drummer/conceptualist Dou Dou N’Diaye Rose in Dakar/Senegal. As a result of this journey an ensemble consisting of Drümmele Maa, the Kölner Saxophon Mafia and Baboma (a Zairian drum group) was formed and toured Germany, culminating in a celebrated performance at the Berlin Jazz Festival in 1989. In 1988 Bauer received an invitation for solo performances at the “German Kunst Disco” in Seoul/South Korea as part of the Summer Olympics which became the basis for his CD “Silent Witness”. In 1990 he received the cultural award of his then home-town Dortmund/Germany.

From 1990 to 2001 Bauer lived in Winnipeg, MB/Canada, where he collaborated with musicians such as Knut Haugsoen, Larry Roy, Marilyn Lerner, Gilles Fournier, Daniel Koulack and in Toronto with Alex Dean, Jerry Fuller, Pat Collins, Nancy Walker and others. With his working band in Toronto, consisting of Bernie Senensky – piano, Jim Vivian – bass, Barry Romberg – drums he recorded the album “Coast to coast” following a tour of most Canadian provinces; it also features trumpeter Kenny Wheeler. His album “Best of Two Worlds” (Tim Hagans, Mick Goodrick, Jim Vivian, Adam Nussbaum), which he presented at JazzFest Berlin in 1996, was nominated for a Juno Award in 1998 (Canada’s Grammy), and the album “Summer’s Embrace” (with musical partner and guitarist Larry Roy plus guests Paul McCandless, Howard Levy and Rick Lazar) was nominated for a Prairie Award. With his world music group “Lingo” (Claudio Puntin – bcl, Marcio Doctor – perc.) the Goethe-Institute arranged a tour of Canadian festivals in 1999, preceded by a CD recording for Jazzhausmusik in co-operation with the WDR.

In 2001, Bauer and his family relocated to Brooklyn, NY which gave the vibraphonist the opportunity to further expand his musical networks. By now he had developed a style both as a player and a composer that, though originally rooted in mainstream jazz, is informed by Music of the World on one hand and Classical and New Music on the other. An invite to the Moers/Germany New Jazz Festival in 2006 led him to found and write for his ongoing five-piece group “Voyage” that has been enriched by the participation of a number of musicians from Germany, New York, Israel, Canada and Holland, with saxophonist Chris Bacas being Bauer’s main collaborator (with Michal Cohen, Ugonna Okegwo, Ted Poor, Pepe Berns, Roland Schneider, Judi Silvano, Gerry Hemingway, Tammy Scheffer, Jim Vivian, Greg Ritchie, Yonga Sun, Mary Ann McSweeny, Dayeon Seok, Dan Montgomery, Evan Hyde, Vera Westera, Dion Nijland, Miguel Boelens).

Inspiring journeys and encounters especially with Christoph Haberer, Adam Nussbaum, Ali Keita, Bernard Woma, Dou Dou N’Diaye Rose, Eje Thelin, Norma Winstone, Kakraba Lobi, Mick Goodrick, Kenny Wheeler, David Friedman, David Samuels, Rama Mani, Valerie Naranjo and many others and memorable collaborations with many fantastic musicians result in a cosmos of impressions and experiences which are reflected in Bauer twelve CD releases – four of them collaborations – to date under his own name (with Charlie Mariano/Ramesh Shotham/Christoph Haberer/Volker Heinze, Bernie Senensky/Barry Romberg/Jim Vivian/K. Wheeler, Adam Nussbaum/Mick Goodrick/Tim Hagans, Claudio Puntin/Marcio Doctor, Larry Roy/Paul McCandless/Howard Levy/Rick Lazar/, Matthias Nadolny/Tim Wells/Thomas Alkier, Ugonna Okegwo/Ted Poor, Pepe Berns/Roland Schneider/Michal Cohen/Tammy Scheffer/Chris Bacas, Michael Heupel, Peter Baumgaertner, David Bindman, Michael Sarin). Bauer has performed for decades at concerts and festivals from Abidjan to Zurich and is part of the jazz scenes in Germany, Canada and in New York. Outstanding activities of the past years were a (second) tour of a number of African countries (with Michael Heupel and percussionist Todd Isler), concerts and a CD with pianist Bryn Roberts (Montreal Jazz fest), live concerts and radio recordings with the WDR Big Band led by Vince Mendoza (2007), and as part of „RUHR.2010“ under the direction of and with arrangements of Bauer’s compositions by Ansgar Striepens (2010). Concerts at New York’s Blue Note Jazz Club (with Jenny Hill), an invitation to the New Jazz Festival in Moers, to the Jazzkaar Jazz Festival in Tallinn/Estonia, Jazz Festivals Hilden and Nürnberg (Vibraphonissimo). A week at Jazz at the Lincoln Center, and numerous concerts in Germany, Holland and in and around New York (e.g. at the legendary ‚Deerhead Inn‘ in Pennsylvania) led to Bauer’s musical connection with Karolina Strassmayer & Drori Mondlak – KLARO. Since 2010, occasionally in an exciting duo with virtuoso pianist Vadim Neselovskyi, which immediately received enthusiastic reviews, and in Brooklyn as part of the Relative Motion Trio with saxophonist David Bindman and drummer Michael Sarin. October 2014 he organized a CD release tour for the CD G E O G R A P H I A (JazzHausMusik), the second CD of Bauer’s ensemble VOYAGE, followed by an invitation by the Goethe-Institut to Central America (Guatemala Ciudad; Nicaragua – Granada and Managua; Santo Domingo/Dom. Rep.; St Juan/Costa Rica), 2015 Reykjavik and Germany with alto saxophonist Sigurður Flosason, bassist Andre Nendza and drummer Einar Scheving, a CD recording and tour with Daniel Koulack & the Knappen Street Allstars in Manitoba u. Sakatchewan/Canada, again to the Reykjavik Jazz Festival 2016 Flosason, bassist Andre Nendza and drummer Einar Scheving as well as the Reykjavik Big Band and guest John Hollenbeck, and with organist Bernie Senensky in Toronto and Germany (plus drummer Peter Baumgärtner). In May and December ’17 duo concerts in Germany with floetist Michael Heupel, a tour with a Matin Luther project/Flautando Koeln and actor Martin Brambach, in September 2017 a three-day guest performance at Toronto’s well-known Jazz Bistro and recordings for the third ‘Voyage’ CD entitled Voyage West (Tammy Scheffer – voice, Chris Bacas – sax., Bauer – marimba/vibes, Jim Vivian – bass, Greg Ritchie – drums). 2018/19: including concerts with organ trio ORGANIC EARFOOD (with Canadian organist Bernie Senensky), CD-release concerts with VOYAGE WEST (with drummer Yonga Sun) in Canada and Germany, performances at NY’s 55 Bar, Shapeshifter Lab, Kitano, and house concerts with Scheffer/Bacas/Mary Ann McSweeney-bass/Dayeon Seok-drums and other lineups (incl. royal hartigan, Wes Brown, Matt Pavolka, David Smith, Mark Ferber), other activities in Canada. 2020 and later: concerts with Soniq (Jarry Singla, Christina Fuchs, Ramesh Shotham, Rhani Krija), PHOENIX (Sarah Buechi, Steffen Schorn, Heupel, Haberer), the Cologne Contemporary Jazz Orchestra, trumpeter Matthias Bergmann and others.

Additionally Bauer has been teaching piano at music schools in Castrop-Rauxel, Münster und the Conservatory Osnabrück, vibraphone and theory at Folkwang Hochschule Essen and the Mallet Institute (Germany), University of Manitoba, Brandon University (Canada), the Brooklyn Conservatory (US) and Orff-Schulwerk in various schools around New York City. He also is infrequently invited to give mallet master classes in various countries and online.

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