It's impossible to get too much of that south of the border sound, 'cause samba, bossa, and all the Latinate rhythms are timeless, the sonic evocation of what the clime is all about. It's also difficult to find cats still playing the vibes anymore, but Hendrik Meurkens has put both together, making a killer second choice in the piano as his accompanist/contrast in this quartet. I'm apeshit over the old Gary Burton / Makoto Ozone stuff, but Live at the Bird's Eye is a completely different beast, and Misha Tsiganov, the keyboardist, is a goodly part of the reason why. When he cuts loose……yow!
Meurkens yanks out the harmonica as his second instrument, favoring a deliciously pastoral sound, going back to a time before the harp heated up so ferociously in the blues. With large elements of Toots Thielemans, Norton Buffalo, and others, the guy sounds at times like an accordion or similar Pat Metheny with his outboards during the Chataugua period, a sound that has grown almost dead but enjoys a vivacious second life here in Estate and elsewhere. Ever wonder where Pat got that distinctive idea? Catch him in YouTube with Toots and be mystified no longer. Meurkens has now taken up the extension of the Bluesette sound for them.
The interplay of the rhythm section is unusual. Bassist Gustavo Amarante favors a slow rock-solid firmament, the real fundament beneath the group, while drummer Adriano Santos plies sophisticated traps above, the mid-ground between Amarante and the front guys (with Tsiganov often dropping back to join the two as Meurkens steps out). Swing? Oh hell yes, and plenty of it, but with a heck of a lot more West Coast cool than most of this great genre usually enjoys, that and prime Blue Note / CTI ambiances. No matter how you cut it, Live at Bird's Eye is not the average jazz disc. America (Meurkens), Brasil (Santos & Amarante), and Russia (Tsiganov) come together in Switzerland to bring the tropics alive way north of the equator by way of Jobim, Gilberto, Donato, Mendes, and sundry others.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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