Concord Picante, 1994
2. Who Did It? (Meurkens)
3. In Motion
8. High Tide
Hendrik Meurkens – harmonica, vibes
Helio Alves – piano
Rogério Botter Maio – bass
Portinho – drums, percussion
This is the debut of my Sambajazz Quartet. I find this format to be the most efficient one for me, a classic Jazz rhythm section of piano-bass-drums plus my instruments. It is basically a Jazz quartet but has the Brazilian swing because of the players. With this set up I can play all the different styles within the Brazilian genre that I am comfortable with: Samba Jazz, Choro, Bossa Nova.
This is also the first time that I recorded with Helio Alves. We moved to New York at about the same time. The first time I heard him was on a gig with Claudio Roditi at Sam Ash’s music store on 48th Street in Manhattan. It was clear within the first chorus that this was a major talent. I didn’t waste any time and hired him for the tour during which this CD was recorded. We have been playing together ever since.
Helio is one of those rare guys who really understand Jazz plus he has the Brazilian swing. Often one has to compromise to one or the other side. Not with Helio.
I wrote Night In The Afternoon for the movie Dolores Claiborne starring Kathy Bates. And starring Hendrik Meurkens. Really. The shoot was in Nova Scotia and they flew me up there to record the tune and play it on screen. Dolores Claiborne is a very dark movie. A very dark vibe with lots of grey autumn colors.
Then there is a scene where they have a garden party with a Bossa Nova band. So in the middle of this depressing, dark movie all of a sudden there is a Bossa Nova band playing a happy tune. Speaking about surprise I am in the picture for about 3 seconds and even so, I am still hoping for my own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Chorinho No.1 is one of my Chorinhos. I love Chorinhos and from my very first album SAMBA IMPORTADO I have included Chorinhos. There is something about this classic Brazilian style that is really close to me. It has the logic and the clarity of Baroque music plus the Brazilian swing.
Speaking of the best of two worlds! My affinity must have something to do with my German background. The classical component comes from the Motherland. Villa-Lobos, Brazil’s great classical composer, paid respect to Bach with his Bachianas Brasileiras.
The Choro legend Pixinguinha has often been compared to Bach. Brazilians are very, very proud of their music and they don’t necessarily appreciate other people daring to play it. Hey, I have the same accent as Bach had. Please, please, let me in.
Brigas Nunca Mais and Portinho’s In Motion feature the vibes. This is a great sound: Sambajazz with vibes and rhythm section. In the Bossa Nova craze in the early sixties everybody did a Bossa Nova album. It was the Law. My favorite is Cannonball’s Bossa Nova with Cannonball and the Sergio Mendes Sextet. And Milt Jackson did one, too. It’s a great album. Bag’s timeless lines work great in that style. Again Bags paved the way.
“The harmonica is ideally suited to playing the nimble lines of a Brazilian Jazz tune. That is, when it’s placed in the right hands, which Meurkens’ definitely are…This album is aptly titled. Meurkens’ musical colors are vivid and bright and he presents them with the crispness of an autumn day.” Paul Matthews, Cadence, August, 1996
“If you haven’t heard this eloquent jazz player, you’re missing out on one amazing aural experience.” Brian Humek, JAM Magazine
“He has a distinctively warm tone and his grasp of the basic bebop vernacular is thorough.” Barry McRae, Jazz Journal International
“The ease with which Meurkens masters a chromatic harmonica is evident in the fluidity of his lines and phrasing.” Nance Ann Lee – Jazz &Blues Report
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