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Hendrik Meurkens: Amazon River

Jim Santella By

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With a session of originals and established Brazilian songs, Hendrik Meurkens pays homage to the music that moves him. His guests play a large part in helping the harmonica virtuoso create a recommended album that accurately describes those feelings. He soars high and low, swooping effortlessly around melodic fragments that belie the rustic impression of a land where no one has to hurry to get things done. Simple, yet filled with exotic undercurrents, the music fills a need that we all share.

Up-tempo sambas and laid-back bossa novas provide fuel for Meurkens' fire. He interprets Jobim's "Passarim" passionately with an emphasis on linear melodic lines that move gracefully up and down. Like the slow-moving river of Brazil and its lush green landscapes, he surrounds the motion of his harmonica with acoustic jazz timbres and gently rolling rhythms. Pianist Helio Alves covers each melody with swank harmonic convergence, while bassist Nilson Matta adds a foundation that's more felt than heard. Together with drummer Duduka da Fonseca, they lift Meurkens' melodies on this festive affair.

Oscar Castro-Neves and Dori Caymmi provide heartfelt vocals to match the leader's interpretations. Another significant force on their quest for homage is the clarinet of Paquito D'Rivera, who captures an authentic folk atmosphere on several tracks. Together, they've captured the eclectic romance of Brazilian music. Playing both harmonica and vibraphone on "Ela é Carioca," Meurkens expresses his sincere appreciation for the mood that Amazon River connotes. It's a relaxed setting with hearty mainstream jazz built right in.

Track Listing: Mountain Drive; Amazon River; Menina Na Janela (The Girl In The Window); Passarim; Ela E Carioca; Lingua De Mosquito (Mosquito Tongue); O Cantador; Meu Canario Vizinho Azul; The Peach; Sem Voce; Piano Na Mangueira.

Personnel: Hendrik Meurkens: harmonica and vibes; Helio Alves: piano; Nilson Matta: bass; Duduka Da Fonseca: drums and percussion; Pedro Ramos: cavaquinho; Ze Mauricio: percussion; Jorge Amorim: percussion; Cassio Duarte: percussion; Dori Caymmi: vocal and guitar (2,7); Paquito D'Rivera: clarinet (6,9); Oscar Castro-Neves: guitar, and vocal (5,10); Robson Cerqueira: bandolim (3); Guilherme Monteiro: guitar (3).

Title: Amazon River | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Blue Toucan Music

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