It is almost as hard to think of who guitarist Mundell Lowe hasn't played with as it is easy to identify those he has. Billie Holiday, Benny Carter, Johnny Hodges, Sarah Vaughan, and Ben Webster are just some giants of jazz music Lowe has shared the state or recording studio with during his more than 50 years in the business. Here he hooks up with the German/Dutch vibraphone/harmonica player Hendrik Meurkens. While not matching either Lowe's tenure or résumé, Meurkens has more than a respectable jazz résumé of his own. He has several albums to his credit having played with Jimmy Cobb, Herb Ellis, and Claudio Roditi to name a few.
Mundell's Moods is the first meeting between the two players, and as a sign of their professionalism, it comes off as if they have been playing together for years as they trade choruses and play in unison. The play list of originals by Meurkens, Lowe, and drummer Chuck Redd blends well with the selection of standards. Meurkens moves between the vibes and harmonica with ease. His vibes, which he turns to more than the harmonica, is prominent on such cuts as Lowe's "A Lad Named Charlie" and "Opus 1." His vibes antecedents are more in the Red Norvo camp than in Milt Jackson's. The harmonica is brought out for plaintive renditions of "I'll Follow My Secret Heart" and "Please Let the Sun Come out Again." Any discussion of Lowe's playing would be superfluous given his long and successful track record as a jazz guitarist. Suffice it to say, he does nothing here to diminish his reputation.
Lowe and Meurkens are supported by mainstream jazz players of note. Larry Porter on piano was a last minute addition being available because he had just moved from New York to Berlin. He works especially well with Lowe on "You Say You Care," which the vibist sits out. The remaining members of the rhythm section of Chuck Redd and Pat O'Leary lay down a solid but unobtrusive cadence.
Another fine release from the Nagel Heyer label, Mundell's Moods is excellent straight-ahead jazz and is recommended.