9. The Shadow Of Your Smile
My debut recording for Concord features my two heroes — Claudio Roditi and Paquito D’Rivera. When I was still living in Germany, Claudio and Paquito personified Samba Jazz for me. I followed what they were doing in Paquito’s band, and, with Dizzy’s United Nation Orchestra. They were both living in New York as well, which for me was, and still is, the most desirable place to live.
One day I decided to take a chance and mailed Claudio my first CD SAMBA IMPORTADO thinking he would break down laughing. But, inconceivably, he liked it and we became friends. When I eventually moved to New York in 1992, he introduced me to everybody, and, let people know that I could play. Thanks, Claudio, I did not forget that.
Paquito and myself also have a special bond because both of us love New York (Paquito calls it ‘the jungle’). After 9/11 both of us felt personally hurt that someone would attack the place that we chose as our home. Sometimes immigrants feel especially strong about their chosen home.
The rhythm section on this CD is from Rio. We did a long, long tour of Europe in October and November of 1990. For these Brazilian cats, this was a big adventure. We did some gigs in former East Germany and that was kind of scary. The Wall just had come down and the vibe in the east was still just like in the communist days. Everything was grey in grey, which seems even greyer in November. It looked like a European black and white movie from the fifties. Very uplifting, indeed.
This album was recorded during that tour. Claudio and Paquito were in Europe with Dizzy so that worked out fine. Also featured is my man Tim Armacost on tenor. I first heard Tim in Berlin and I liked his playing instantly. Rooted in the tradition with a big, fat tone, he has a great sense of humor, and he’s always in a good mood.
SAMBAHIA features the first, and therefore original recordings of two songs I have recorded many times, my compositions Prague In March and A Summer In San Francisco. A Summer In San Francisco had an even greater honor, it was stolen by another musician. A few years ago there was a CD released by a musician, who shall remain nameless, that was titled, A SUMMER IN SAN FRANCISCO and this fellow was listed as the composer. This is the mark of true fame.
On this recording, I use my European based Musser vibraphone. It sounds particularly fat here, thanks to Max Bolleman who recorded and mixed the album. Max also recorded OCTOBER COLORS and IN A SENTIMENTAL MOOD.
He has a nice studio in Holland in a small town near The Hague. For a certain period, I made a point of booking my European tours so that we would have time off to visit Dr. Bolleman. That way, we would always sound good.
As fate would have it, I have heard our version of Samba De Verão all over the place. When I produced the album I had no idea this track would become the catchiest tune. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have put it last on the album.
“Meurkens may be in the process of doing for the harmonica what J.J. Johnson did for the trombone – bring an “impossible” instrument into bop…rapid single-note lines are Meurkens’ speciality and they have to be heard to be believed.” Shirley Lett –Cadence – April, 1992
“…demonstrates that there is hardly any other European player capable of blending bebop and Brazilian music so remarkably, without any gimmicks or clichés. Luis Tamargo – The Jazz Review, February, 1992
“is a reaffirmation of the pleasures inherent in the marriage of jazz and samba in the 60’s. The introduction of a new jazz harmonica voice is a bonus on recording of substantial merit. Simply put Sambahia is a gas.” Mark Holston – Jazziz, January, 1992
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