The album Elusive Beauty by Sebastian Schunke and Diego Pinera – together with reedsmeister Benjamin Weidekamp, violist Yodfat Miron and cellist Boram Lie – takes music into a dimension that is both ethereal and otherworldly as well as penetrating the known world of sound deeply. In fact Mr Schunke in his short essay on the music of this album makes a case for what he calls fourth stream. Whether or not one is comfortable with another epithet to describe the progress of Latin-Jazz with an infusion of new European ideas, Mr Schunke’s music rhythmically entwined with Diego Pinera’s drums and percussion colouring seems to support the argument once made by Antonio Carlos Jobim that “popular and serious music should not be construed as two separate and distinct turfs especially when good pop (he was referring, of course to Jazz and Bossa Nova) is innovative and meets high musical standards it not only does it survive, but tends to be assimilated in the classical music of our time.”
This music which Mr Schunke has deemed to be Elusive Beauty takes that whole concept much further. True, Mr Schunke would consider himself allied to “Jazz” and “Latin-Jazz”, but these conventional epithets simply imprison the music that Mr Schunke has created for this performance. Listening to it one is reminded of a magical, elegant railway system linking Jazz, folk, Afro-Caribbean, Berlin Cabaret music and the chamber music style of the post-serialist 20th century conservatoire. And yet describing it as such gives the impression of over-cooking. In reality it’s anything but that; the whole project, in fact, is a masterpiece of subtlety. Throughout Mr Schunke navigates labyrinthine melodic lines harmonised by himself – and on the two parts of “Back to Life” and “Der Gedanke” by Mr Weidekamp, Miss Miron and Miss Lie – joined by the dazzling drummer and percussionist Diego Pinera who creates broodingly percussive tumbling grooves that lift the music to an elevated realm.
The considerable degree of balance and integration of melody, harmony and rhythm, of composition and improvisation, of exploration into deep sonic space, of singularity and tradition… all of this is impressively maintained throughout. It puts Mr Schunke at the pinnacle of his compositional and pianistic powers. He may indeed scale greater heights in the future. But even if he never makes another record he can rest assured that Elusive Beauty is one of which he can be enormously proud for its music – whether in its darkened shadowy sonic world or in its joyous dancing – engages you like few recordings will. And with the presence of his co-conspirator Diego Pinera, Sebastian Schunke has taken all of the elements of modern music to quite another level.
Track list – 1: Rapsodia No. 3 Alles Im Fluss; 2: Einsamkeit; 3: Back to Life Part I; 4: Back to Life Part II; 5: Rapsodia No. 4 Crazy Danzón; 6: Der Gedanke; 7: Her Dance
Personnel – Sebastian Schunke: piano and compositions; Diego Pinera: drums and percussion; Benjamin Weidekamp: bass clarinet and clarinet (3, 4, 6); Yodfat Miron: viola (3, 4, 6); Boram Lie: cello (3, 4, 6)
Released – 2018
Label – Termidor Musikverlag AG (Catalogue No 59980-2)
Runtime – 48:38