Christoph Spendel - New York Groove


To write a review about Christoph Spendel is not easy. Christoph is a very active musician, who has already played in more than 46 albums, which are listed at his website Inspecting these cds the problem is to find the right start . Outlining a rough sketch we have to decide between the straight ahead jazzer and the contemporary/smooth jazz musician. But this frame is really too rough, if one listens to his diverse albums. Take for his example his album "Jazz Meets Classic" with classic and jazz elements, his album "The Art Of Piano Solo", on which he is mixing jazz and hip hop incredients or his album "Electric Bolero", declared as smooth-chill out-lounge-world music.

Christoph has never shown touch-fears if it came to connect jazz with pop music. A good example for his smooth jazz attitude is the album "New York Groove" including highlights of the three albums "Cool Street" (1992), "Out Of Town" (1995) and "City Kids" (1996). It was the period, when Christoph lived in New York and Germany and became a member of the group Special EFX. He played as a sideman on Chieli Minucci's album "Jewels" (1995), was for a short time a member of The Fantasy Band with musicians like Lionel Cordew, George Jinda, John Lee, Chuck Loeb, David Mann, Marion Meadows, Dave Samuels ("The Fantasy Band", 1993) and toured worldwide with Special EFX

Christoph's speciality is the combination of piano, keyboards and drum machine to a grooving synthesis. Phat City, the album starter, showcases dynamic drum loops in a hip hop style, piano runnings and a colorfull keyboard background. The result is grooving and hooking.

The perfect jazzy touch of piano tones is also featured on French Girls. His airy piano melody is mixed with exotic keyboard sounds.

N.Y. In July is one of many tracks taken from the first album "Cool Street" with musicians like Omar Hakim, Victor Bailey, Mino Cinelu, Bob Mintzer, Oscar Castro Neves, Gerald Veasley, George Jinda, Chieli Minucci, Mark Johnson, Lionel Cordew, Emedin Rivera, Mark Ledford. Impressing the full brass sound. Personally I prefer the recording of a complete group.

If You Were Here is a perfect example of the contemporary jazz sound of the 90's. Melodic melodies and hip hop rhythm dubbed with scratching effects. Above all remains Christoph's great piano art. Also outstanding are Wesley G's guitar solos. Sounds like George Benson's Ibanez.

South American rhythms fade in on Pismo Beach. Was this the influence of George Jinda as the producer of the album "Cool Street"?

On Modern Jazz, taken from "City Kids", we listen to a hard drum groove, while Christoph is improvising. Derrik James is responsible for a magnificient sax solo.  You should also check out Derrik James ' solo project "Think Positive" on Blue Flame Records, he has produced together with Christoph in 1996.

Wild And Wonderful is a funky tune with Derrick's rocking sax.

Neptune Hotel is a more smooth jazz tune we could also listen to sitting at a hotel bar drinking a cocktail.

Burrito Veracruz is a rhythm emphatic propulsing tune with a South American flavor. The slap and fretless bass is remarkable.

Out Of Town, the title song of the second album, has some acid jazz jamming with a thick bass, the organ sound and some orchestral synth overdubbs. But first of all Christoph's funky piano play is the combining chain.

Mondays On Bleeker Street is another uptempo style in the George Jinda style (bells, timbales and hundreds other percussion instruments), above all the dynamic organ. Bob Mintzer blows out his sax to a powerful momentum. 

Sit back, relax and listen to Cool Street, the mellow title song of the first album.

After a short intro a moody melody is introducing into Stella By Starlight. This jazz classic was covered by hundreds of jazz artists, Christoph interprets the tune as a reggae, influenced by Dave Samuels?

Coney Island is the last good-bye on this album. Bob Mintzer 's sax is irresistible.

If one hadn't the opportunity to buy all albums of the above mentioned trilogy, "New York Groove" is a good substitute. With this album in one's hand one receives a worthy part of smooth jazz history mirrored in the musical US-German connection Christoph has buildt up.


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