Benjamin Schaefer is a brilliant young pianist (33 at this writing) whose playing is at times a bit reminiscent of Bill Evans,’ particularly in its chord voicings. Born in Germany in 1981, Schaefer received extensive classical training before taking up jazz in 1998. By 2004 he had evolved to the point where he became a member of the German Youth Jazz Orchestra and the NRW Landesjazzorchester. That year he made his recording debut as a leader.
Schaefer and his trio with bassist Robert Landfermann and drummer Marcus Rieck have been together for several years. Their close communication is impressive, with Schaefer’s piano being first among equals. Landfermann (who takes occasional solos) and Rieck are very subtle in support of the pianist, often extending his voice so it sounds as if all three instruments are being played by the same person.
While not sounding like a duplicate of any of these players, Schaefer’s ability to caress melodies, his thoughtful approach (even at faster tempos), and his tasteful way of building solos does hint at Bill Evans and to a lesser degree Keith Jarrett and Brad Mehldau. Where he differs is that his music is sometimes more classical-oriented, and he can be a more intense player.
On Leaves Like Snow, Benjamin Schaefer and his trio perform eight originals, one by Rieck, and the obscure “We Have All The Time In The World” which they take at a ballad pace. The music is thoughtful, melodic and quietly powerful, easily recommended to fans of acoustic jazz piano.