A timely follow up to the his critically acclaimed Sambatropolis (ZOHO, 2008) released early last year, chromatic harmonica player and vibraphonist Hendrik Meurkens, presents us with another brilliant embrace of the Brazilian music that this Dutch-born New York raised musician, has so enthusiastically adopted as his own. Samba to Go! is a natural continuation of Meurkens' love for the choro and samba rhythms that he explored on the previous album. While still borrowing some music from such legends as Antonio Carlos Jobim and Victor Young for this album, Meurkens offers seven originals, some new and others previously recorded which, are nevertheless provided new arrangements here.
Bringing back the same personnel from Sambatropolis, which features drummer and percussionist Adriano Santos and bassist Gustavo Amarante who have anchored the rhythm side for years, Meurkens enlists the help of reed man Rodrigo Ursaia while Luiz Simas plays the piano on "A Choro for You," and Ze Mauricio handles the congas on three pieces. The major change on this album is the addition of Russian-born pianist Misha Tsiganov who also performs on the Fender Rhodes 88 elevating an already stellar rhythm section to another level.
Meurkens opens the music revisiting the tune "Spaceburger," from his first album Samba Importado (Bellaphon, 1989), recorded two decades ago in Brazil, this time using the vibes to express this delightful melody. "Odessa In April" is one of his newer pieces and possesses that unique Brazilian flavor that's now expected from an artist who weaves the rhythms through the sound of his familiar harmonica. The title piece is a quick-paced samba that moves with up-tempo intensity and features the harmonica player in high gear. Presenting an exquisite rendition of the Antonio Carlos Jobim standard, "So Tinha De Ser Com Voce," Meurkens once again draws on the vibes for this gorgeous ballad.
Getting down to expressing the choro style of Brazilian music that Meurkens enjoys so much, "Choro No. 14"dedicated to musician and friend Ronaldo Folegattiand "A Choro for You" are two frisky, whirlwind numbers he delivers on harmonica in stylish fashion with Tsiganov laying down fine piano lines on the latter. The exceptional "Mountain Drive," a retreat from Amazon River (Megaforce, 2005) and the shoulder-moving, boppish read of "Joe's Donut," containing a slice of the Afro-Cuban flavor in the mix, are clear highlights. Wrapping up another winning release, Meurkens employs his harmonica in a soft and tender way, performing a heart-warming interpretation of Victor Young's immortal love ballad, "My Foolish Heart," to complete a most compelling album of Brazilian styled music.
Hednrik Meurkens continues his love affair with the music of Brazil on Samba To Go!, his evolution of the samba and choro styles and his flawless command of the harmonica and vibes making this another masterpiece of an album.
Track Listing: Spaceburger; Odessa In April; Samba To Go!; So Tinha De Ser Com Voce; Choro No.14; Mountain Drive; Joe's Donut; Bossa Sketch; A Choro For You; My Foolish Heart.