Hendrik Meurkens

New York Samba Jazz Quintet

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Always a friend of Brazilian music, going back to his time spent in Brazil in the early '80s, Hendrik Meurkens returns once again to the idiom in a live performance at Cecil's Jazz Club in West Orange, New Jersey. There is only one obvious standard Brazilian tune here -- Jobim's "Triste" -- and one near-standard, João Donato's "A Ra" (better-known in North America as "The Frog"), plus a convincing medium-tempo bossa nova translation of a non-Brazilian standard, "I Can't Get Started." Meurkens contributes two fleet, attractive choros of his own, "Mimosa" and "Menina Na Janela" -- both of which have been performed on earlier Meurkens recordings -- as well as an aural picture of "Prague in March" and the contemplative "Bolero para Paquito," in which Meurkens' harmonica comes closest in sound and manner to his most-commonly cited reference point, Toots Thielemans. Whether on harmonica or vibraphone, Meurkens flies as comfortably as ever over the various Brazilian jazz grooves from drummer Adriano Santos, bassist Gustavo Amarante and pianist Helio Alves, with Jed Levy brought in on tenor sax and flute to supplement Meurkens' usual quartet. Nice!

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