Concord Picante, 1992
6. Chega De Saudade/ To Brenda With Love
9. You Go To My Head
11. Allan’s Theme
Hendrik Meurkens – harmonica, vibes
Claudio Roditi – trumpet, flugelhorn
Osmar Milito – piano
Fernando Merlino – piano, keyboards
Jacaré – bass
Claudio Jorge – guitar
Alçeu Maia – cavaquinho
Pascoal Meirelles – drums
Dom Chacal – percussion
And on tracks 4,5,7,9 &10
Mack Goldsbury – soprano saxophone, flute
Lito Tabora – piano
Guilherme Castro – bass
Rolo Rodriguez – drums, timbales, percussion
Topo Gioia – congas, percussion
This album features two different bands: an all-star cast of Samba Jazz greats recorded in Rio, and, my working band recorded in Berlin.
This, my second Concord project, was actually the first where I had a budget to produce an album. Before this recording, I would record on my own, then sell the finished product to a label, so this was a new experience.
My German working band was truly an international team: drummer Rolo Rodriguez from Uruguay, bassist Guilherme Castro from Brazil, pianist Lito Tabora from Hongkong, percussionist Topo Gioia from Argentina and saxophonist Mack Goldsbury from the US.
This sound of this band goes beyond my usual Brazilian efforts because the musicians are particularly strong playing Cuban-inspired Latin Jazz. A good example can be heard on my intro to Mambo Inn, or the bolero-ish versions of Estate and You Go To My Head. That group played quite a bit in Europe before I moved to New York 1992 and I’d love to work with them again, anytime. Where are they anyway?
The other half of the album was recorded a few months later in Rio. Claudio and I were already friends and he graciously helped me put the band together. He was in Rio for some family business and I thought, ‘why not go down there again (‘SAMBA IMPORTADO was also recorded in Rio) to finish the album.
Claudio is one of my heroes. Years ago, I started following his career because he personified what I was trying to archive for myself: combining bebop-based Jazz improvisation with Brazilian feel and form. He certainly is the master of that. His trumpet playing must be considered to be one of the important trumpet styles in Jazz. You can recognize Claudio right away. That is the mark of a great player.
I met Pascoal Mereilles in Boston, twelve years before that. Bassist Jacaré plays on SAMBA IMPORTADO and SAMBAHIA and his swing is certainly in-the-pocket. In Samba Jazz, the bass line, and feel, are modeled after the surdo (the bass drum) of the Escola de Samba. Jacaré sounds like the 250 surdos of Mangueira (one of the grand Escolas de Samba in Rio). He can really anchor a rhythm section.
I knew Osmar Milito from my first visit to Rio, in ’82, when we both played at ‘Bar 21’ on Monday nights. This guy knows every Brazilian song ever written. Alçeu Maia is a young cavaquinho virtuoso who has played on many Brazilian recordings. I loooooove the cavaquinho! When it’s played well, it really swings. And it is pleasantly small so that I don’t look so lost on stage with my even smaller harmonica.
The title track, Clear of Clouds is another one of my tunes that over the years, I keep playing and recording because it has proven to be strong enough. I find it quite interesting how some of my compositions really stand the test of time. It takes a few years to really know the strength of any individual composition. Some have the substance and the catchiness that makes one play them all the time. Like Prague in March and Slidin’. This CD also features a medley of Chega De Saudade and To Brenda with Love. The latter is by Paquito and while I was still living in Germany, it was one of my favorite Sambas. Written by a Cuban. Recorded by a German/Dutchman. In Rio. World music is circling in.
“Compelling arrangements and purposeful musicianship are indeed memorable to the melodies recorded on this date. Hendrik Meurkens’ CLEAR OF CLOUDS is not just another Latin/Brazilian jazz album. It is complex, hard driving, versatile and refreshingly unassuming. – Archie McElrath – Jazz & Blues – January/February 1993
“Meurkens displays an uncommon sense of the intricacies of the idiom in his multiple roles of composer, arranger, and performer. CLEAR OF CLOUDS brims with the kind of delectable melodies and riveting performances that symbolize the best qualities of honest Brazilian jazz.” Jazziz – February/March 1993
“Solid support from an ample line-up, including special guest Claudio Roditi, plus Meurkens’ original compositions, make for overall excellence.” Marcela Breton – JazzTimes – June 1993
Purchase This CD
or an autographed copy