Jazz and More with Daria Assmus and Marcus Schinkel Under the Cedar Tree

Daria Assmus, born in Bonn, met Marcus Schinkel from Bad Godesberg 6 years ago as a piano teacher. She then went on to study jazz singing in Arnhem, and more recently delivered by all accounts a furious performance in the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg with the ensemble Brassonanz.

On Monday Daria was back with her former piano teacher in Bad Godesberg for a memorable performance ‘Unter der Zeder’. If you missed the show then you missed a real musical treat!

In the course of the evening, Marcus Schinkel spoke of seeing a live performance in the 1980s from Sting’s ‘Bring on the Night’ Tour and being especially hypnotized by the performance of late New York Jazz pianist Kenny Kirkland. It’s easy to imagine such a show as being the catalyst behind Schinkel’s complete disregard for genres – his crossover style from Classical Beethoven pieces, through Rock as per the Voyager IV project, and further still through to Jazz in all it’s colorful forms. In short – Marcus Schinkel loves a good tune well played, be it Beethoven, Baker or Snarky Puppy.

My recent experience of hearing Schinkel has been with his Mussorgsky/ELP Rock opus ‘Pictures’. Tonight’s show with Daria Assmus was though in many ways as experimental as the Rock opus. You really had no idea what would come next – only that we had four musicians onstage who were capable of delivering it perfectly. Taking in ‘Son of a Preacherman’, Madonna’s ‘Frozen’, Hildegard Kneff’s ‘In Dieser Stadt’ and Snarky Puppy’s ‘Gone Under’. All impeccably performed and all utterly different.

As Daria pointed out – Kneff sung about her own City Berlin and now she, Assmus, was singing the same song both in and about, her own City, Bonn. It was certainly a beautiful moment, but the best vocal moment of all to my ears was Assmus’s vocal on Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’ with a haunting backing on keys by Schinkel. Followed not far behind for goosebumps by the Billie Eilish Bond classic ‘No Time To Die’.

If I had to pick a favorite track overall from the evening though it would have to be the set closer ‘Come Together’ on which were some seriously amazing musical solos from musicians who really did come together. What I had in my head at shows end was the funky bass sound of Robert Schulenburg. I was gobsmacked to learn afterward that he and dutch drummer Wim de Vries were playing their first live show together. Hats off to an amazing rhythm section!

The stage front though belonged to Schinkel and Assmus, and both delivered heartfelt performances. Witness the former heading round the audience with portable keyboard in hand, or dancing with sheer joy with a photographer stage-side during a particularly funky bass solo. The Man oozes enthusiasm for music – of all sorts. Enthusiasm to appreciate what you are hearing, and also the uncanny ability to make the difficult look easy. “Snarky Puppy did this one with a hundred piece wind section – but we can handle it – just the four of us” winked Schinkel at one point. Of course they did too.

Daria Assmus impressed me most on the slow-burning numbers described earlier, but her voice was always a pleasure to listen to and, as the picture gallery accompanying this review testifies, she was enjoying every moment of time spent with her old piano teacher. We enjoyed every moment too!

Next Monday, 29 August, will see local World Music heroes Caju closing this year’s Unter Der Zeder Festival. Sad that it is already almost over – but great that there is still more to come.

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