Christoph Spendel

Christoph Spendel is the prototype crossover jazz musician - who is equally at home with the Bebop tradition , crossover Fusion and European Classical Music.Brought up by his mother a classical piano instructor he received his first piano lessons at the age of five and later a firm grounding in formal music education at the Robert-Schumann-Institut in Düsseldorf,

Germany. In his early teens C.S. listened to the music of Oscar Peterson,Dave Brubeck and Miles Davis and began building a reputation in the German Jazz Scene.His professional career began as a member of the group "Jazztrack",touring all over Europe and performing at all major festivals.At the same time he started his solo projects with his own group and as a solo pianist.He played with major German jazz musicians, among them Albert Mangelsdorf, and Michael Sagmeister , and.American musicians like Eddy Harris,Charlie Mariano,Airto Moreira,Flora Purim,Miroslav Vitous,Jim Pepper and Alphonze Mouzon invited C.S. to join their Bands while touring Europe.

Among his worldwide trips to Canada,Scandinavia,USA and other countries he also had a chance to perform in Israel with the local band "Zaviot" and with the project "Tel Aviv Connection".In the same year Swiss TV invited C.S. to a special show with the GRP All Stars featuring Lee Ritenour and Don Grusin and shortly after that he recorded his first CD for Blue Flame Rec.,his jazz trio "Back to Basics".

In 1989 Michael Urbaniak invited C.S. to New York to participate in the project "Milky Way" along with Randy Brecker,Lenny White,Victor Bailay,Ray Gomez and Urszula Dudziak and this is how his American Dream began.Michael Urbaniak also produced Christoph´s first US release simply called "Spendel" with Bill Evans,Steve Gadd,Jeremy Steig ,Anthony Jackson and Steve Khan.

Shortly after that he became a member of "Special EFX", with which he was touring for almost two years in North and Central America. It was in that period that George Jinda the group´s percussionist produced Christoph´s CD "Cool Street" which finally introdoced C.S. to the USA. Musicians like Bob Mintzer, Mark Ledford, Chieli Minucci, Oscar Castro Nevez, Gerald Veasley as well as the former Weather Report rhythm section including Omar Hakim, Victor Bailey and Mino Cinelu. Beside that he was also performing with Cuck Loab, Marion Meadows, Dave Samuels, Dave Valentin, the Fantasy Band, Nelson Rangell, Chieli Minucci and Noel Pointer.

Since 1994 C.S. commutes constantly between Europe and the USA doing live concerts, working in studios, teaching at Jazz clinics (among them the Music Academy in Frankfurt,Germany and the Junior Collage in St.Petersburg,Florida) and producing TV spots for American Stations like CNN, ABC and CBS.

His current CD for Blue Flame Rec."Flight 408" is a new chapter of modern and smooth urban ambient jazzscapes in the spirit of contemporary hip hop rhythm and melodic song writing , featuring members of his current touring band "The Christoph Spendel Electric Band " and talented singer Lisa Shaw from London.



Christoph Spendel is a multimedia-man. Arranger, programmer, engineer and producer he replaces a whole music-studio-staff. But unsurpassable is his performance in playing piano. Christoph is a master of ebony and ivory.


Christoph has a rich experience as a sideman and member of famous jazzgroups. He was playing with musicians like Bob Mintzer, Mark Ledford, Chieli Minucci, George Jinda, Oscar Castro Nevez, Gerald Veasley as well as the former Weather Report rhythm section including Omar Hakim, Victor Bailey and Mino Cinelu. Besides that he was also performing with Chuck Loeb, Marion Meadows, Dave Samuels, Dave Valentin, the Fantasy Band, Nelson Rangell,  and Noel Pointer. Do you remember Chieli Minucci's Jewels? Christoph was the keyboardist on this cd.


His album flight 408 was released by Blue Flame Records 1998. Flight 408 is the flight Nr. of the Lufthansa nonstop connection between Christoph 's both homes Düsseldorf and New York City. The cd was played in by The Christoph Spendel Electric Band. This new-founded touring group consists of the following members:

  • Christoph Spendel - Piano, Keyboards, Bass, Drum - and Percussion Programming
  • Klaus Bittner - Electric and Acoustic Guitar
  • Emanuel Stanley - Bass
  • Frank Kirchner - Sax
  • Lisa Shaw - Lead and Background Vocals

Starting the flight 408 Christoph introduces with keyboard chords his skillful piano play in a jamming funky-hip-hop style. Impressing the agility of Christoph's fingers hushing over the keys. If comparision is allowed, he plays like George Duke. Supported by Stanley's pressing fat bass and Bittner's plucked guitar play Christoph's sets us in an easy laidback mood.

Sunny a cover version of Bobby Hebb's great '66 hit combines this sound with the soulful smoky voice of Lisa Shaw. And again Christoph's incredible improvisations sparkle to our ears.

The moment I remember is a contemplative smooth transitional. Giving you the opportunity to relieve the tension. Is there really a drum machine behind? If yes it's a perfect jazzy drum programming. Very melodious Kirchner 's sax answering Christoph's keys.

Bittner sets a funky break to Night Speak. Light runnings over the keys attached with guitar accents guide through a smooth night.

When the night comes takes over the temper in a more hip-hop manner adding Kirchner 's profound sax. This is the sound of the city. 

Footprints from heaven prolongs the city mood in a new variation on a closely weaved carpet of keyboard chords.

Who didn't remember the often recitated Michael-Walden-hit I love your smile? Christoph and Lisa Shaw give this song a new jazzy quality. Breathtaking pianorunning change with Lisa's smooth and fresh vocals.

Bittner's acoustic guitar sound is the central point on the next piece The Art of Cool distinguishing by a very easy listening piece.

A more funky bass addition is to find on First Impression. The jingle belle percussion reminds of Jinda's percussion background.

Slowly is anew a relaxing break, slowing down the measure to a jazzy point. Christoph shows his affinity to the straight-ahead-jazz without leaving the Smoothjazz-platform. Interrupted by Bittner's distortion guitar the piece gets his attractive mixture.

Jogging with Ben is the vivacious lead-out. Last time to hear Christoph's skillful piano play before you hear the cd again and again.

Hearing the cd one question remains: Why are such gifted musicians so rather unknown? Christoph Spendel and The Spendel Electric Band deserve your fully attentiveness. So if you have the opportunity to buy this cd, do it! You will never regret. Christoph Spendel 's work is from a timeless estethic and a milestone in the history of Smoothjazz.




 © HBH