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My favorite among a crop of fine recent Brazilian music releases is a CD that is not by a Brazilian, but by a Belgian - harmonica wiz and vibraphonist Hendrik Meurkens. He gets plenty of help from guests composer / keyboardist / vocalist Ivan Lins, trumpeter Claudio Roditi, guitarist Romero Lubambo, drummer Teo Lima, and others.
This is one of those albums where a variety of elements come together in all the right ways. It's satisfying both as contemporary acoustic jazz and as modern Brazilian. Musicians from both Americas work together beautifully. Four Meurkens originals, plus a composition from band member Steve Sacks, blend seamlessly with three Jobim standards and two Lins gems. Arrangers Jay Ashby, Sacks, and Meurkens give all the tunes fresh new treatment. The most interesting and unique arrangement is Ashby's chart on the standard "Angel Eyes" ' he sets it to a funky, urban Samba beat with Meurkens switching to vibes, and it succeeds wonderfully. Ashby adds a smooth mellowness to the program with his trombone playing, too - an instrument that's not heard frequently enough in today's music.