Choro, bossa nova and samba rhythms which are native to Brazil, are the primary focus of Hendrik Meurkens new release, Samba To Go. The recording features Meurkens’ working quartet and guests, and follows in the wake of his previous release, Sambatropolis, another exploration of Brazil‘s culturally based rhythms. Hailed as one of the world’s leading chromatic harmonica players and vibes musician, Meurkens demonstrates a melodic splendor that engages the listener’s aural senses. The recording contains a program of seven samba, bossa nova and chorinho inspired originals written by Meurkens, "A Choro For You" penned by special guest pianist Luiz Simas, one Brazilian classic, "So Tinha De Ser Com Voce" by Antonio Carlos Jobim, and "My Foolish Heart," a standard from the Great American Songbook.
The harmonic forms are complementing with splashing piano chords and a gritty tenor saxophone solo in "Mountain Drive," which morphs into a boppish melody mixed with Afro-Cuban rhythms in "Joe’s Donut." The repertoire feeds on grains of swing, funk and bop with Latin rhythms in the mix. Meurkens’ drummer Adriano Santos and bassist Gustavo Amarante anchor the compositions as the saxophones and flutes, in coordination with the vibes, lift the pieces into sweetly splayed sprints. The tunes dance vibrantly and bustle lightly creating lavish displays like in "Spaceburger." The fancy-free sprays of the harmonica notes move with a curiosity that entices a freedom of expression in the other instruments like the high spirited tussling between the saxophone and the sprinkling piano keys. Instrument parts are intertwined and curled elegantly while supporting each other through the melodic phrases. The compositions inspire movement, and a need to involve all parties to join in the action.
Meurkens tells in a recent press release, "The harmonica hooks up so nicely with Brazilian music that it just asks for the marriage of instrument and style." The sprays of harmonica notes seep into the ducts of the melodic action, and excite the patterns in ways that are conceived through a vivid imagination.
Meurkens’ latest release, Samba To Go displays moving pieces of Brazilian-enriched rhythms with boppish sprigs. The music has an elegance and warmth that recalls of a cool Brazilian night, and the gentleness of its breezes combing across over its seashore. The compositions place the listener in the center of Brazil’s world, a place of idyllic beauty and vibrant dances.