is getting quite a bit of airplay in advance of its August 23 release date. That's always a good sign.
While the influence of Toots Thielemans is immediately apparent, Hendrik Meurkens is already considered a master of the harmonica. Listeners will hear Meurkens on vibraphone with a beautiful reading of Jobim's "Ela é Carioca" featuring the voice of the legendary Oscar Castro-Neves. The guitarist appears on nearly every track. Castro-Neves handled much of the arranging duties for this CD project, including the beautiful string section on "O Cantador." Paquito D'Rivera's clarinet and Meurkens' harmonica turn "Lingua de Mosquito" into an album highlight. The song is a Meurkens composition.
For those who don't know the leader, Hendrik Meurkens is German-born and moved to New York City in 1992. Meurkens graduated from Berklee. During the early 1980s, he lived in Brazil absorbing the essence of that country's infectious rhythms. Now a regular in the New York jazz clubs, he has a dozen CDs to his credit.
This reviewer especially enjoyed the duet performance with Meurkens and Oscar Castro-Neves on Jobim's "Sem Vocé." The leader avoids long solos as a matter of his personal taste. He refers to Thielemans' evolution from lengthy, complicated solos early in his career. Toots Thielemans later moved to brief and simpler solo passages exploiting the beauty of the music itself. Amazon River
was not a planned album. The tunes accumulated over years and the CD project was a natural culmination of a successful 2004 tour. Fans of Brazilian jazz will love this record. Sound samples are available at the artist's website.