Hendrik Meurkens: Manhattan Samba

Edward Blanco By

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Hendrik Meurkens: Manhattan Samba
Composer, virtuoso on both the vibraphone and harmonica, German-born New York-based Hendrik Meurkens presents yet another colorful and tantalizing taste of Brazilian music on the exquisite Manhattan Samba. A proponent of the samba and bossa nova styles of music after a full immersion while living in Rio de Janeiro in the early 1980s, Meurkens continues documenting his passion for the music, this time offering new compositions, includes previously recorded tunes and features the music of Brazilian/jazz masters Ivan Lins, Toninho Horta and Antonio Carlos Jobim.

Recognized as perhaps the most important harmonica voice since Toots Thielmans, for this album, Meurkens performs only on the harmonica and surrounds himself with a core quartet featuring Brazilian pianist Helio Alves, Brazilian bassist Gustavo Amarante and Brazilian percussionist/drummer Portinho. Argentinian bassist Fernando Huergo also participates on three tracks.

Recorded in Augsburg, Germany in 2020, the eight-piece collection of Brazilian jazz begins with the samba-tinged "Clear of Clouds," followed by the fast-tempo title track highlighting the leader on many solo moments throughout. Offering a lighter side of the music on the tribute for the late pianist Manfredo Fest, "One for Manfredo" showcases the talents of pianist Alves along with powerful drumming from Portinho.

The Lins classic "Dona Palmeira" is the first of a couple of very soft and beautiful tunes performed on this album. Speaking of classics, the Jobim staple "Bonita" is the closest to a tender ballad you will encounter here, striking and warm in every way, performed as duet between Meurkens and Alves. The brief choro-styled "Frenzelosa (Choro No. 2)" is a spicy, fast-played, shoulder-moving, Carnival-styled number sure to energize anyone.

Closing out the session is another wonderful genre staple from the great Brazilian guitarist Toninho Horta, "Aquelas Coisas Todas," as the harmonica master and distinguished band mates put a cap on one of the finest musical experiences of Brazilian/jazz on the 2021 jazz landscape.

Track Listing

Clear of Clouds; Manhattan Samba; One for Manfredo; Dona Palmeira; The Fropple; Bonita; Frenzelosa (Choro No. 2); Aquelas Coisas Todas.


Hendrik Meurkens: harmonica; Helio Alves: piano; Fernando Huergo: bass; Portinho: drums.

Additional Instrumentation

Gustavo Amarante: bass

Album information

Title: Manhattan Samba | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Self Produced

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