Sebastian Schunke – Composer and Pianist from Berlin

“…Both in performance and recording the band has an energy that their contemporaries lack…“
China Daily, Shanghai, 2006

“…that guy Sebastian Schunke is a very, very fine pianist-composer, he is very good!”
Paquito d´ Rivera, 9 time Grammy Award Winner, USA, 2008


Sebastian Schunke was born in 1973 and began learning classical piano when he was six. His main influences in the early stages were Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin and Debussy. At the age of 12 he began studying Latin jazz as well, being influenced initially by Eddie Palmieri and later by Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Chick Corea and Danilo Perez.

In 1996 aged 22 Sebastian Schunke made the move to New York,

It was a special challenge for Schunke as an European to not only come to grips with the rhythmics of Latin America but also to avoid following them in a traditional manner and instead to let them transform into a new groove in irregular measures, while at the same time colouring them with the influence of his European roots, so enabling, along with native New Yorkers and European and Latin American musicians, something new and original to emerge.

Sebastian dived into the New York Latin Jazz scene and studied with Garry Dial, Manhattan School of Music, Sonny Bravo, Hilton Ruiz and Alan Gampel. His compositions caught the attention of renowned musicians like John Benitez, Antonio Sanchez, Richie Flores, Dafnis Prieto, Yosvany Terry and Peter Brainin, with whom he recorded his debut CD “Symbiosis” (Timba /Edel 2002).

In 2000 Sebastian moved to Berlin, where he finished his Jazz studies at the Conservatory of Music “Hanns Eisler”.

Electronic and singing Elements as well as strings getting embodied in the musical concept and lead to the recording of the second CD “Mouvement“ in 2004 (Timba/Edel) with a large orchestral ensemble. In 2007 he released the CD “Sebastian Schunke meets Olvido” – Vida Pura (Timba/Edel). On this two recordings Sebastian brings together international renown Latin Jazz musicians living in Berlin, Paris, New York and Cuba. They unify the intense energy from their home cultures to create a complete new song concept in a Latin Jazz environment. In 2008 Sebastian went back to New York recording his CD “Back in New York” with 9 time Grammy Award Winner Paquito d´Rivera and an All Star Band with John Benitez, Antonio Sanchez, Pernell Saturnino and Anders Nilsson – leading the music to a new hip expression. In 2011 he produced with his highly celebrated Berlin Quartet his fifth CD featuring Pernell Saturnino and recording 7 Solo Piano tunes.

Since 2002 the Sebastian Schunke Group tours the world unifying world renown jazz performing artists from all over the world. He performed with his projects on several international Festivals and Clubs in Colombia, Venezuela, China, Laos, Chile, Latvia, Malta, Turkey, Luxemburg, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the USA. In 2004 he accompanied the German President Köhler to Africa as the official German Cultural Embassador.

In 2004, 2006 and 2008 Sebastian won the Berlin Jazz Award. Sebastian is the first European Musician who has developped his own international acclaimed EuroLatin Stile. His compositions are changing he keeps his music fresh, so coming from his own Latin Stile he nowadays leads the music to a hip experimental world jazz – totally new and unpredictable.

CDs of the Sebastian Schunke Group

Sebastian Schunke Euro Latin Progression „Symbiosis“ (Timba 2003)

Sebastian Schunke Orchestral Expression „Mouvement“ (Timba 2005)

Sebastian Schunke meets Olvido „Vida Pura“ (Timba 2007)

Sebastian Schunke featuring Paquito „Back in New York“ (Connector 2008)

Sebastian Schunke Berlin Quartet “Life and Death” (Connector 2011)

Festival Appearance as a Bandleader (selection)

Jazz al Parque, Bogotá, Colombia (2003), International Jazz Festival Manizales, Colombia (2003, 2006), International Jazz Festival Calí, Columbia (2007), Jazz Festival Bucaramanga, Colombia (2003, 2008) International Piano Festival Bucaramanga (2006), International Piano Festival Barrancamerbeja, (2006); Jazz Festival Caracas (2003), Goethe-Institut Caracas (2003, 2006), German Embassy, Bogotá, Colombia (2006), Universidad Nacional Bogotá,(2003); Italian Culture Institut Etiopia, Africa (2004), French Culture Institut, Benin, Africa (2004), German Consulate Benin, Africa: Concert for the German President (2004), Xinghai Concert Hall, Guangzhou, China (2005, 2008), German Consulate, Guangzhou, China (2005, 2006, 2007), JZ Club, Shanghai (2005, 2006), True Colors Jazz Club, Shenzhen (2005, 2006), German Consulate, Shanghai (2006, 2007), Blue Nites Festival, Berlin (2005), Kemptener Jazzfrühling, Germany (2003), APC-Summer Festival, Kempten (2005), Symphonie Hall, Istanbul, Turkey (2003), European Week Cartagena, Colombia (2007, 2008), Masala Weltbeat Festival, Hannover (2005), German Embassy Vientiane, Laos (2008); Concerthall Vientiane, Laos (2008); Concerthall Valletta, Malta (2008); Jazzfestival Wiehl, Germany (2008); Shezhen Concert Hall, China (2008); ExpoAlemania, Bogota, Colombia (2008); North Sea Around Town Festival, Rotterdam (2009); Thelonious Jazz Club, Chile (2009); LillaHotel Barren, Stockholm (2009); Rigas Ritmi Jazzfestival, Latvia (2010).


Jazz studies and studies in composition

Manhattan School of Music, New York; Conservatory of Music “Hanns Eisler”, Berlin; Garry Dial, Sonny Bravo, Michael Abene; Hilton Ruiz, Alan Gampel, Prof. Köhler; Prof. Jiggs Whigham, Kurt Klose, Brunhilde Kolb.