Bassist Nilson Matta and multi-instrumentalist Hendrik Meurkens have performed on the periphery of Brazilian music, even as they have been immersed in the thick of it as well. So much in demand because of their unique talents, Matta has performed with the likes of Don Pullen and Mor Thiam, while Meurkens has worked with Allen Farnham and Herb Ellis. But they left their hearts in Rio de Janeiro.
Meurkens starts Encontros with "Summer in San Francisco," bending notes and crying out as only a harmonica can over flowing piano, guitar and percussion before settling into a light samba, when Matta joins him. While it seems that the CD stresses harmonica over other instruments, it doesn't take long for Matta to catch up with an understated solo reflecting the melody.
But things don't stay understated for long. In a tribute to deceased Brazilian guitarist great, Baden Powell, "Baden" strangely enough omits guitarist Romero Lubambo as the harmonica, bass and piano carry this lively tune, more of a jazz sensibility than a Latin one in its straight-ahead fashionat first.
While Dado Moroni provides his usual outstanding piano work with Meurkens on two tracks, "Baden" breaks away from the familiar approximately two-thirds of the way through the tune. That's when pianist Helio Alves, at the suggestion of Paquito D'Rivera, weaves in a fortissimo Bach prelude behind Meurkens, the eighth-note figure finally dissolving into a final dramatic arpeggio.
Adding variety to the proceedings, Matta and Meurkens recruited vocalist Maucha Adnet to sing on "Amor em Paz" and "Chega de Saudade," putting Portuguese words to Jobim's tunes and reliving her work with the master Brazilian composer.
Matta's performance on several of the tracks defies expectations, most notably on "O Ovo," on which he never breaks away from the energetic arco work that reflects the rhythmic figures that Da Fonseca develops on drums. On the other hand, Matta melodically advances the richness of "Junity" with subtlety and flow.
Encontros, meaning "meetings," is more than that. The "meetings" of Encontros result in heart-felt musical conversations that arise from the complexity and directness of Brazilian music.
Track Listing: Summer In San Francisco, Baden, Amor em Paz, Chorinho No. 2, Rosa, Junity, Chega de Saudade, Prague in March, Forests, This Is for Luisa, O Ovo
I love jazz because it is both challenging and exhilarating, and the endeavor of improvisation is the highest form of art.
I met so many great musicians--including my two earliest heroes, Maynard Ferguson and Dizzy Gillespie--by attending concerts
and being willing to treat them with the respect they deserve.
The best show I ever attended was the Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman Song X concert at Cornell University.
The first jazz record I bought was an RCA compilation by Dizzy Gillespie.
My advice to new listeners is to not be afraid to listen to something because you're not familiar with the artists or the band or
the genre or anything - this is music that is best experienced through discovery.