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Sunday, June 24, 2018

CD Reviews: Hendrik Meurkens w. Roger Davidson Quartet/Bill Cunliffe.

Roger Davidson (piano); Hendrik Meurkens (harmonica/vibes); Eduardo Belo (bass); Adriano Santos (drums).
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Hendrik Meurkens (harmonica); Bill Cunliffe (piano).
(Review by Lance).
I'd heard of Meurkens but never actually heard him until suddenly my sadly neglected education was rectified in the form of not one but two albums featuring the German harmonica player who also, on one of them, plays vibes rather well.
However, as the delightful album by the Roger Davidson Quartet - Music From the Heart - isn't released until September 4, I'll go with the duo album for the time being although, in the meantime, I will be playing the quartet recording many times. It's beautiful and so so so romantic. Put this on your car stereo and your success rate will multiply! I'll report back in August.
The duo album is another gem. For those readers who fondly remember cornetist Ruby Braff's duo recordings with pianist Ellis Larkins or the Toots Thielemans/Bill Evans album Affinity, this release will sit proudly, head held high, alongside them.
The harmonica has never quite received its deserved acceptance, despite the virtuosity of Thielemans and earlier players such as Larry Adler, Tommy Reilly and Max Geldray.
I'd like to think that Meurkens will help to lift the profile and, on the strength of his playing on these two albums, maybe he will. Already he is touted as the premiere living master of the jazz harmonica something I would find difficult to bet against.
With Cunliffe on piano - himself a highly regarded pianist, composer, arranger, in-demand sideman, author and composer of many screen soundtracks - the duo click in a programme of standards: Cabin in the Sky. Invitation; Speak Low and Wave. Jazz compositions: Miyako (Shorter) and Young and Fine (Zawinul). Bobby Gentry's enigmatic Ode to Billie Joe, and, finally, a couple of originals each: Afternoon and Prague in March by Meurkens; You Don't Know and Time to Say Goodbye by Cunliffe.
A choice selection although, without the storyline, Ode to Billie Joe doesn't have the same impact when played in this format. Still, 10 out of 11 is pretty good going.
Lance.
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