Friday, July 13, 2012

Hendrik Meurkens, Gabriel Espinosa, Celebrando

Brazilian jazz is not new age, not smooth jazz. New age & smooth jazz are often vulgar corruptions of Brazilian jazz, combined with an elevator music mentality. That original heat-in-mellowness that continues to energize samba-bossa jazz has ultimately nothing but a superficial relationship to the smooth and new age bastardizations that came after.

So with the Hendrik Meurkens/Gabiel Espinosa album Celebrando (Zoho 201204) there is a mellowness, sure. But this is the real thing. Hendrik is a first-rank harmonica player. Gabriel Espinosa plays bass and sings, teaming in this latter with Allison Wedding, who sounds quite good in the wordless bag. They are joined by a very hip and appropriate band who can get in the groove and flex the time so that it gently or not-so-gently swings samba-style.

It's an arranged sort of music with room for nice soloing--of course Hendrik on harmonica, Anat Cohen sounding very limber and lithe on clarinet and tenor, Jim Seeley on a nicely brandished trumpet and fluegel, Misha Tsiganov well-represented on piano and Rhodes. Antonio Sanchez and Mauricio Zottarelli share the drum duties. Both provide that all-important swung samba style.

The songs are originals by various members of the band for the most part and they are quite melodic and well-constructed. If this is a post-CTI sort of Brazo-jazz, it is a well done version and it is not in any way formulaic.

In short this is a Brazo-jazz winner. I am glad to have to hear again!

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