What is it about jazz harmonica that makes you feel so good inside? Carrying this straight-ahead, New York themed program as featured melody maker, Hendrik Meurkens warms the heart with his lyrical exposition. Maybe it's the primitive nature of the instrument. Most cultures have instruments similar to Meurkens' chosen medium somewhere, back in their earliest historical chapters. It's likely that the earliest cave man blew across hollow reeds to achieve pleasurable sounds such as this. Perhaps to attract a mate. So the affection may go deeper than merely to our formative years.
For the most part up-tempo, bebop-derived, mainstream blowing, New York Nights moves the listener to tapping and nodding. It's that kind of jazz. Eric Alexander sits in on four tracks and adds a powerful sense of the tradition. He and Meurkens like to work with octaves and punctuate their phrases with bits of traded 'conversation.' The recorded sound and balance work out quite well, and Meurkens is at his best on this album. Surrounded by an outstanding rhythm section, the leader seems to feed off their enthusiasm. 'Scrapple from the Apple' brings four particularly impressive sets of chops to the platform. Performed at a blazing tempo, the Charlie Parker nod summarizes this recommended album thoughtfully and reminds us that virtuoso jazz artists don't just appear out of nowhere. These guys have paid their dues, and Meurkens has earned the right to carry the jazz harmonica torch.
Personnel: Hendrik Meurkens- harmonica; Eric Alexander- tenor saxophone; Dado Moroni- piano; Chris Berger- bass; Jimmy Cobb- drums.