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Hendrik Meurkens Quartet at Sweet Rhythm
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Hendrik Meurkens Quartet at Sweet Rhythm

- Jazz and Cabaret Corner

Hendrik Meurkens
(See Hendrik Meurkens’ CD Reviews)

CD Preview Party of Amazon River

Sweet Rhythm
88 Seventh Avenue South
(Between Grove and Bleecker Streets)
New York, NY 10014
Phone 212-255-3626

Hendrik Meurkens, Harmonica
Hélio Alves, Piano
Gustavo Amarante, Bass
Adriano Santos, Drums & Percussion


Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
July 31, 2005

Performance List:

Set #1

A Felicidade ( Jobim)
Prague In March ( Meurkens)
Lingua De Mosquito ( Meurkens)
A Summer In San Francisco ( Meurkens)
Portrait in Black and White (Jobim)
A Ra ( Donato)
Chorinho No. 2 ( Meurkens)

Set #2

Passarim ( Jobim)
Amazonas ( Donato)
Menina na Janela ( Meurkens)
Bolero Para Paquito ( Meurkens)
The Peach ( Meurkens)
Triste ( Jobim)
Someday My Prince Will Come (Disney)

During two sets at Sweet Rhythm tonight, Hendrik Meurkens, who can make a harmonica sound like an orchestra, was joined by Adriano Santos on drums and percussion, Hélio Alves on piano, and Gustavo Amarante on bass guitar. A special guest, David Pietro, joined the second set on saxophone, and Hendrik Meurkens chose selections from his upcoming CD, Amazon River, as well as from In a Sentimental Mood and previous recordings. Many of the pieces exuded Brazilian motifs and Latin percussion, all melodic, all danceable (but no dance floor here).

A Felicidade was decisively led by harmonica and supported by Hélio Alves on piano. Adriano Santos created Brazilian percussive effects, before Gustavo Amarante echoed the theme on bass chords, soft and edgy. When Meurkens returned on very textured harmonica, the orchestral imagery was developed. Prague in March including key changes, with a mellow, melodic tune, hinting of Samba, plus prominent percussion. Alves, a fascinating pianist, throwing his heart into this music, took lightning spins, straight jazz, all around his keyboard and filled the club with energy. Meanwhile, Meurkens created canary-like tremolos on harmonica, and bass and drums turned lusciously Latin. Amarante carried the jazz motif, as Santos collaborated with clave rhythm. Soon the music was more abstract with elongated, existential tones.

Lingua de Mosquito, from the new CD, was a danceable Samba, and Sweet Rhythm became Rio in a flash. A soulful Bossa Nova followed, and Santos used brushes to enhance sultry rhythms of bass guitar and piano. At times, Meurkens walked offstage to showcase his band, before he returned for his blended ensemble effect. Portrait in Black and White, a sensual and rich piano-harmonica duet, was sophisticated and sensitive. This was pure music unleashed. The new interpretation of a traditional ballad developed into a two-instrument conversation, finishing each other’s musical phrases, before merging into fused chords. A Ra, began with a playful piano lead joined by hidden clave rhythms, a hot Salsa sound. Santos carried the Latin beat and added fire to the band with a sensational solo. Chorinho No. 2 included Brazilian tambourine to carry us to Carnivale.

To lead the second set, Passarim, with atmospheric percussion, was followed by a powerful harmonica solo, over faintly pulsating rhythms. This piece combined abstraction and harmony. In Amazonas, a potent Salsa boiled and bubbled, and the musicians seemed even more relaxed in this final set of the series. Meurkens walked offstage for Alves to star, and the theme was transported to piano, over clave bass and percussion. Amarante took a solo with bass scat effects, passed next to the drums. The clave motif was consistent and effervescent. The solos were seamless, and Meurkens completed the wailing, wanton theme. Menina na Janela, composed by Meurkens, like so many of these works, turned Salsa to Samba.

Meurkens’ Bolero para Paquito, an homage to Paquito D’Rivera, famed Cuban saxophonist and clarinetist, exuded Cuban rhumbas, as Meurkens’ harmonica passed the theme to Alves’ piano, which literally sang these melting melodies. Santos’ drums drove the clave beat, as the piano took the theme to lower registers with occasional ornamentation. Volume and velocity of sound were building con brio. The Peach, from the newest recording, an adorable and ingénue melody, was scintillating Samba, but lyrical and light-hearted. Triste, by Jobim, brought David Pietro onstage, and his saxophone riffs added an effortless blending of one more instrument to this two-set event. Pietro has stylistic presence a sunburst of sound. A harmonica-sax conversation ensued, with the remaining band as echoing background.

Some Day My Prince Will Come, from Disney’s Cinderella, closed the event, with Pietro remaining onstage. Meurkens played the original theme, with Pietro taking an abstract angle and Alves adding a solo riff. Amarante grabbed the tambourine and Santos took the shaker to bring back the Samba, and the quartet (now quintet) went wild with this ballad. Watch for two upcoming Meurkens CD reviews. Check out to see upcoming events at Sweet Rhythm in Greenwich Village, NYC.

Hendrik Meurkens Quartet
Photo courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

David Pietro, Guest on Sax, Adriano Santos, Helio Alves
Photo courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at