Barely into his 30s, this German guitarist from Koln fluently swings his way through an 11-tune set with the help of pianist Larry Fuller, drummer Jeff Hamilton, and bassist John Goldsby. And while Schoneker's tone and presence on the recording leave something to be desired, he compensates with well-placed phrases and the sense that he's really improvising instead of just playing by the numbers.
The specter of Wes is nearby as Joachim deftly negotiates the 12-bar form of "Blues & Fashion," or tosses off octaves on Buddy Montgomery's "Bud's Beaux Arts." His own "Snapshot" is a bright rhythm changes workout; after an articulate offering by Fuller, he wades in, treating the perennial chord sequence with long lines and sleek chordal passages. On "Marie," a gentle bossa nova played on nylon-string guitar, he starts alone, gradually picking up the other members of the group as the music unfolds. And "'Round Midnight," a piece that helped him make the semifinals at 1995's Thelonious Monk Competition, grooves from start to finish with the help of fine brush work by Hamilton. Innovation? Hardly. Just nice, straight-ahead playing throughout.