Zoho Music, 2012
Listen to Excerpts from All Tracks
Produced by Gabriel Espinosa & Hendrik Meurkens. Executive Producer: Joachim “Jochen” Becker. Funded in part by Central College, Pella, Iowa. Recorded May 24-27, 2011, by Michael Brorby at Acoustic Recording, Brooklyn, NY. Mixed by Michael Brorby at Acoustic Recording. Mastered by Jay Dudt at Audible Images, Pittsburgh, PA. Package design: Jack Frisch.
Hendrik Meurkens, harmonica
Gabriel Espinosa bass, vocals on # 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11
Anat Cohen clarinet on # 3, 5, 9, tenor on # 6
Jim Seeley trumpet, flugel horn
Alison Wedding vocals
Molly Blythe background voals on # 5, 7, 11
Misha Tsiganov piano, fender rhodes
Antonio Sanchez drums on # 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9
Mauricio Zottarelli – drums on #1, 4, 8, 10, 11; percussion
All About Jazz Review
Harmonica maestro Hendrik Meurkens and bassist Gabriel Espinosa share top billing, but the music seems to mark this as a Meurkens date. While each man contributes four songs to the program, Meurkens’ harmonica is the guiding voice while Espinosa supports more than stands out. Regardless, both men can be credited for putting together a program that’s buoyant and pleasing to the ear.
Meurkens and Espinosa seem to share an interest in blending voices that rarely encounter one another. Harmonica, clarinet, wordless vocals—courtesy of the enchanting Alison Wedding—and flugelhorn move as one (or dovetail with one another) in various permutations throughout this album. While all of the music has a distinctly Brazilian identity, each track has individual, distinguishing characteristics. Pianist Misha Tsiganov‘s Fender Rhodes brings a different color to “La Esperanza,” Anat Cohen‘s peppy clarinet work enlivens “Frenelosa (Choro No. 2)” and Espinosa’s Spanish vocals on “La Puerta” give him an opportunity to step out of the shadows and into the spotlight.
While Cohen gets special billing because of her star power, trumpeter Jim Seeley is even more important in the grand scheme of this project. His warm flugelhorn is featured well, and he steals the show with his muted trumpet solo on the samba-leaning “She Lives In Brazil.” The undercarriage of the band proves to be equally important as either Antonio Sanchez or Mauricio Zottarelli drive the band through this music.
Celebrando is worth savoring for the music, but it’s also a worthy salute to Becker, who has turned Zoho into a major player in the world of jazz and beyond.