Two years ago, 2012, the Zoho label released the Gabriel Espinosa / Hendrik Meurkens Celebrando CD to critical acclaim and happy consumer satisfactions, but this reconnection, their 2014 reunion, Samba, Little Samba, is even better, sparkling and zesty in the opening title cut, a song featuring not only the usual breathtaking harmonica work from Meurkens, who can always be counted on for flawless mastery, but also grooving melodious vocal dueting from Espinosa (over and above his quietly muscular basswork) and Alison Wedding. The drumwork throughout the album is half by Adriano Santos and the returning Antonio Sanchez, who not only graced the first Espinosa / Meurkens disc (here) but also Matija Dedic's Sentiana (here).
Espinosa's composition A Song for Ray returns Wedding, who appears on most of Samba, for a melismatic mello-groove with harp narrative balladry from Hendrik. Besame Mucho follows in suit, so far the most sensuous rendering I've yet heard, Espinosa's ground-level working-man's encantations contrasting well against Wedding's angelic pining with its long notes and silky inflections. Misha Tsiganov, often more pronounced in other appearances with other artists, takes on a more elegant backdrop duty through much of Samba, in Besame a commodity of thoughtful pensivity behind velvet curtains.
Choro de Neve picks up the pace once again, a sprightly work-out with clarinetist Anat Cohen and Meurkens flanking one another, Espinosa's restless bass snaking around and through everything, Santos' drums fencing all and sundry into a partytime veranda as celebrants dance and drink. That's followed by another stint of vocalese from both Wedding and Espinosa, and I strongly suspect we'll one day soon be seeing Allison with her own Zoho release. I covered her This Dance a couple years ago (here), and it was a CD affair to be remembered, but she indexes perfectly with these two great band leaders, as though she'd been on the road with them for a decade. Lick your lips, y'all, as no end of very pleasant things could arise from this musical meet-up.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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