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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

Hendrik Meurkens

By Ernest Barteldes
Published April 16, 2008

Sambatropolis
Zoho

On this album of many moods, the most Brazilian among German-born musicians continues to explore samba-inflected tunes from a jazz point of view, and he’s backed by a hot group of New York-based players (most of them from Brazil) for a seamless journey through a wealth of original material and a few key covers. Among the latter is “Nem Lá, Nem Cá,” originally written by Brazilian bassist Adriano Giffoni, which churns along ahead of a funky rimshot drum groove laid down by Adriano Santos. By contrast, “Ocean Lights” is a soothing ballad that allows Meurkens the space to display his incredible chops on the harmonica before he yields to the fine piano work of longtime collaborator Helio Alves (flutist Rodrigo Ursaia also shines here in a spirited exchange). On the Jobim classic “Fotografia,” whose original lyrics speak of the fond memories captured in a photograph, Alves channels the composer’s piano work while drummer Duduka da Fonseca and bassist Gustavo Amarante form the perfect background for Meurkens and tenor saxophonist Jed Levy. At its best, this set serves up quite a treat that deserves many repeated listens.