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New York Nights

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Album Review

The chromatic harmonica of Hendrik Meurkens is profound, lyrical, fluid, and swinging on his second release for the Netherlands-based A-Records label. New York Nights features a half dozen standards and four delightful originals performed by the harmonica master with Eric Alexander on tenor saxophone, Italian pianist Dado Moroni, bassist Chris Berger, and drummer Jimmy Cobb and together they weave a great tapestry of bebop, swing, and heart-wrenching ballads. Meurkens is an excellent composer as evidenced by the title track, "New York Nights," a pensive, nocturnal ballad. He plays a beautiful melody that is alternated by Eric Alexander's rendition of the bridge with excellent solos from them both. This combination of instruments — harmonica and saxophone — is very nice to hear on this wonderful collection of great songs. Alexander plays some great long lines and short phrases on "It Could Happen to You" with great improvisations by pianist Dado Moroni. The only drawback to this CD is that it does not include any compositions that feature Meurkens playing vibes as on "Mundell's Moods" or the sweet sambas he played on Samba Importado and In a Sentimental Mood. However, his covers of the priceless "You Stepped out of a Dream," "I Didn't Know What Time It Was," and Charlie Parker's blazing "Scrapple From the Apple" make up for that and add an extra layer of excitement and variety to this fantastic hour of great jazz.


Born: 1957 in Hamburg, Germany

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Ever since he started taking harmonica solos in the mid-'50s, Toots Thielemans has been without any close competition on his instrument, at least until Hendrik Meurkens arrived on the scene. Born in Germany to Dutch parents, Meurkens began as a vibraphonist, not playing harmonica until he heard Thielemans when he was 19. He traveled to the U.S. to study at Berklee and spent time in Brazil in the early '80s, during which he immersed himself in Brazilian jazz. Back in Berlin, Meurkens worked in the...
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New York Nights, Hendrik Meurkens
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