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Hendrik Meurkens: Cobb's Pocket

Dan Bilawsky By

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Is there anything more satisfying than the simmer-and-swing sonics of an organ combo on the move? How about one fronted by one of jazz's premiere harmonic players and backed by one of the most distinguished drummers in the music's history? Following up their successful meeting on Harmonicus Rex (Self-Produced, 2016), Hendrik Meurkens and nonagenarian icon Jimmy Cobb join forces to deliver a beautiful set of music that alternately cooks, smolders and seduces. And with guitarist Peter Bernstein and organist Mike LeDonne filling out the lineup, there's some serious weight added to this engagement before the first notes even appear.

From the hip glide of Herbie Hancock's "Driftin'" at the top of the program to the fine and mellow sendoff of Meurkens' "A Slow One" at the bottom, this quartet lays right in the sweetest of spots—in Jimmy Cobb's legendary pocket. There are no extremes in the mix—nothing is overly aggressive or hopelessly humdrum—but there's still a fair amount of variety on the menu. The title track offers some drive and late-in-the-game trading from the titular figure; Slide Hampton's cool-headed "Frame For The Blues" delivers on its name, with Bernstein turning out one of his most absorbing solos; Meurkens' "Slidin'" proves to be a work of cheery charms, complete with a catchy head and upbeat soloing; and Henry Mancini's "Slow Hot Wind" gives the leader a chance to spin out a thematically-driven solo before the baton passes to Bernstein and LeDonne, who each ride the current in winning ways.

The inclusion of bassist Sam Jones' "Unit Seven," no doubt nodding to Cobb's eternal link to the song through Wes Montgomery's Smokin' At The Half Note (Verve, 1965), makes for a smart programming choice, as does the penultimate "Polka Dots And Moonbeams," a classic that Cobb has recorded under his own name in the past. But despite those allusions to other times and glories, Cobb's Pocket isn't pushing nostalgia. It's music of the moment, couched in easily accessible terms that nearly any jazz listeners can understand.

Track Listing: Driftin’; Cobb’s Pocket; Frame for the Blues; Slidin’; Slow Hot Wind; Unit Seven; Polka Dots And Moonbeams; A Slow One.

Personnel: Hendrik Meurkens: harmonica; Peter Bernstein: guitar; Mike LeDonne: B-3 organ; Jimmy Cobb: drums.

Title: Cobb's Pocket | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: In And Out Records

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