Stefan Bauer

Bright moments abound in the latest from vibraphone and marimba player
Stefan Bauer, but a track called “Beyond the wall . . . ” sets the
tone of deep intelligence and excitement. What begins as a virtuoso
performance at the marimba transforms presently into a deep, patterned
music that is countered against singer Michal Cohen’s staccato,
horn-like commentary for a combination that suggests Thelonius Monk’s
ungainly swing transplanted to a village in Mali. Like the late Don
Cherry, Bauer has long enjoyed a rare ability to draw other music
(from folk fundamentals to digital programming) into jazz without
forcing the fit. On Voyage, Bauer’s new band of the same name finds
much more sustenance in textures and snaking melodies than it does in
traditional jazz theme-solo structure. Bassist Ugonna Okegwo, drummer
Ted Poor and saxophonist Chris Bacas are up for it, and Cohen is a
revelation — trumpet, flute and soul without words.

Randal McIlroy