Hendrik Meurkens: Cobb's Pocket

Nicholas F. Mondello By

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It may be posited that what Louis Armstrong was to the trumpet, Toots Thielemans was to the mouthorgan. With Thielemans now blowing in the Upper Room, the field is open to aspiring and worthy replacements. Hendrik Meurkens fits that bill appropriately and is a leading contender, for sure. Like his aforementioned hero, Meurkens is not only a superior harmonica player, he is, like Thielemans, a multi-instrument-playing musician.

Cobb's Pocket, a very fine effort, has Meurkens fronting a terrific rhythm section consisting of B-3 organ, guitar and drums. Not a lengthy album -there are only eight tracks. The session offers terrific ensemble playing and great jazz improv across a variety of grooves. "Driftin'" is a Herbie Hancock-composed head-tilting ear-wormer that has Meurkens and Bernstein's guitar working its way over a hip, with a struttin' head and LeDonne chiming in before Meurkens, Bernstein and LeDonne deliver pocketed solos. The pairing of harmonica and guitar on melodies is an excellent touch that adds a robust dimension. The title cut, a Meurkens composition, is a respectful and furiously-paced tip of the hat to legendary drummer Jimmy Cobb. It is a burner with leader and cadre delivering smoking solos.

Maestro Meurkens is a technical wizard. He holds little back and swings heavily throughout the date. His chops have chops. His improvisations are swinging, extended lines that resemble of those of a saxophonist or pianist. Remember, Meurkens is also an ace vibraphonist. He is (and all are) soulful on Slide Hampton's "Frame for the Blues" and he demonstrates great dynamic taste on "Polkadots and Moonbeams." Bernstein offers great swing and a tasty solo on the leader's "Slidin' and Henry Mancini's bossa, "Slow Hot Wind." LeDonne, as underrated as he is talented, is a swinger in the finest B-3 tradition. Cobb, a near-nonegenarian at the time of the session, is tasty and driven throughout and offers a fine solo on "Unit Seven."

Cobb's Pocket is shorter in length, but extensive in its delivery of an A-1 entertaining session. This is a pocket to be picked. And yes, The Baron would be proud.

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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