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Sebastian Schunke: Symbiosis

Mark F. Turner By

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The fusion between European and Latin music styles is handled nicely on pianist Sebastian Schunke's release Symbiosis. Schunke intentionally merges the boundaries of classical piano and Latin rhythms to create music that is structured but spontaneous, familiar yet exotic.

Trained on classical piano since the age of six, Shunke's main influences were Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, and Debussy. Years later, when exposed to Chick Corea, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, and Eddie Palmieri, he realized an epiphany of creativity in Latin American rhythms and jazz harmonies. At the age of 22 he moved to the musical melting pot of NewYork and began realizing his own musical vision of Latin American jazz and European music which he terms "Euro Latin Progression."

For this project Shunke incorporates of some of the current hot young jazz talent with bassist John Benitez, percussionist Richie Flores, drummers Dafnis Prieto and Antonio Sanchez, and the horn talents of Yosvany Terry and Peter Brainin. Each musician adds the fire to Shunke's cool and disciplined composing. With a variety of tempos covering sambas, bombas, and other Afro Cuban beats, the music holds a wealth of pulsating energy. Prieto and Flores ignite the composition "Mi Sueno Espanol" with some top notch percussion in a Puerto Rican (plena) rhythm. Benitez, who is one of today's top bassists, illuminates the recording with world class fretwork and memorable solos. One listen to his animated bass solo on "Abschied" is hearing proof. Brainin and Terry share the horn duties, delivering interesting and timely alto and soprano sax performances.

Schunke's skills as a writer and musician deserve applause. His playing is thoughtful and tempered with a discipline that works well with his fellow musicians. His approach is one not of flamboyance, but tempered intensity. These compositions, realized through detailed arrangements with exceptional percussion, are memorable, interesting and ideal for both listening and dancing.

Track Listing: 1. An Die Liebe 2. Abschied 3. Fernweh 4. Bajar 5. Lebenswandel 6. Suite fur Puppel 7. Mi Seuno Espanol 8. Maxi and Malin

Personnel: Sebastian Schunke - piano; John Benitez - upright, electric bass; Richie Flores - congas, bongos, chekere, perscussion; Dafnis Prieto, Antonio Sanchez - drums; Peter Brainin, Yosvany Terry - sopranom, alto sax

Title: Symbiosis | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Timba

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