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Hendrik Meurkens: Live at Bird's Eye (2011)

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Hendrik Meurkens: Live at Bird's Eye Considered, by many, to be the most important jazz harmonicist since Toots Thielmans, German-born/New York-based Hendrik Meurkens has long been a connoisseur of Brazilian jazz, with an impressive discography of bossa nova and samba-infused music. Live at Bird's Eye is an assemblage of Brazilian, American and Italian jazz standards recorded live on several sessions from 2008 and 2010 at the Bird's Eye Jazz Club in Basel, Switzerland. For this recording, Meurkens draws on music from Joao Donato, Antonio Carlos Jobim
Antonio Carlos Jobim
Antonio Carlos Jobim
1927 - 1994
piano
and Sergio Mendes
Sergio Mendes
Sergio Mendes
b.1941
piano
, as well as from his own songbook, crafting a decidedly Brazilian-flavored album.

While his prowess on the harmonica is well established, Meurkens was, first and foremost, a two-mallet vibraphonist in the tradition of Milt Jackson
Milt Jackson
Milt Jackson
1923 - 1999
vibraphone
and Bobby Hutcherson
Bobby Hutcherson
Bobby Hutcherson
b.1941
vibraphone
. Along with the great Cal Tjader
Cal Tjader
Cal Tjader
1925 - 1982
vibraphone
, he has been instrumental in keeping the vibes relevant to Brazilian music and was the first to introduce the harmonica as a part of the Brazilian genre. Meurkens performs on both instruments and joins two Brazilian musicians, bassist Gustavo Amarante, and drumming sensation Adriano Santos, in a featured quartet that also includes prominent Russian-born pianist Misha Tsiganov.

Playing the vibes on straight samba version of Donato's opening " Amazonas," Meurkens' quick-paced rhythm is enhanced by Tsiganov escalating chords. With Meurkens delivering a passionate harmonica solo over a delicate chorus from the rhythm section, the band slows the tempo down on a reprise of the Italian love ballad, "Estate." Reprising the title track from Sambatropolis (Zoho, 2008), Meurkens retains its color and texture in a quartet format, even though the original contained contributions from reed men Jed Levy
Jed Levy
Jed Levy

saxophone
and Rodrigo Ursaia.

Jobim's classic "Dindi" and "Voce Vai Ver" are two sweet ballads featuring Meurkens' soft harmonica lines and gentle vibraphone voice respectively, with Tsiganov supplying elegant accompaniment on both. The oft-recorded jazz standard "Body And Soul," normally associated with, and interpreted mostly by saxophone players, fares well here, with the vibes filling in quite nicely.

Live at Bird's Eye augments Meurkens' already extensive discography of Brazilian music. Long an exponent of the genre, Meurkens is a master of weaving the rich melodies and harmonic structures of the bossa nova and samba and does so convincingly in this live setting, with a world-class quartet.


Track Listing: Amazonas; Estate; Sambatropolis; Dindi; Lingua De Mosquito; Noa Noa; Body And Soul; Minha Saudade; Voce Vai Ver.

Personnel: Hendrik Meurkens: harmonica, vibraphone; Misha Tsiganov: piano; Gustavo Amarante: bass; Adriano Santos: drums.

Record Label: Zoho Music

Style: Brazilian


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