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Hendrik Meurkens was smitten enough by Brazilian music to move to Rio from Germany in the early eighties. He calls this a life-changing musical experience which led him to study the music in depth. A residency at the Bar 21 in Rio helped put theory into practice. He moved to New York from his native Germany, from which he became a rather prolific recording artist. Brazilian music was the center of this universe.
Out of the large treasure trove of Brazilian jazz, the choro, bossa nova and samba interest Meurkens most as a jazz player. All these styles are found on New York Jazz Samba Quintet, which is comprised of original material and pieces by Brazilian composers, both famous and less well-known.
The delights of the samba come in on the jiggling lines of "Vamos Nessa, before Jed Levy opens the vent on the tenor saxophone and moves it into jazz territory. Meurkens brings in a light swinging airiness on the vibraphone, letting the tune soar. Helio Alves captures the perspective and goes on to expand the melodic boundaries on the piano.
The flute is one of the traditional instruments for the choro, however the harmonica is not. In any case, Levy and Meurkens find symmetry as they use the two instruments on "Menina na Janela. Meurkens expands on the interplay of the melodic lines with richly textured harmonic inventions, coming off as a compelling exponent of the instrument. Yet another mark like this comes on "Bolero Para Paquito, a tune he wrote for Paquito D'Rivera. It is warm and sentimental, made all the more attractive by the tenor sax and harmonica.
The band meshes jazz and Brazilian music palatably on Jazz Samba Quintet. The rhythms fire the progression, and the end result is an album that zings its way into your mind's pleasure zone.
Track Listing: Vamos Nessa; Flor de Lis; A Ra; Prague in March; Mimosa; I Canít Get Started; Menina na
Janela; Bolero Para Paquito; Triste.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.