Saturday, December 5, 8:00 PM
Tickets: $20 / $16 Members / $10 Students
German-born but now based in New York, Hendrik Meurkens, who plays both the chromatic harmonica and the vibraphone, will be appearing at Flushing Town Hall next week.
A two-mallet player in the tradition of Milt Jackson and Bobby Hutcherson, Hendrik Meurkens was en-route to being an instantly recognizable vibraphonist when he heard Toots Thielemans. Inspired by the sound of Thielemans' harmonica, he taught himself the difficult-to-master instrument. He seems also very influenced by Brazilian harmonica master Mauricio Einhorn.
Hendrik Meurkens' other life-changing musical experience was his introduction to samba and bossa nova. He was so moved by Brazilian music that after perfecting his unique musical voice at Berklee, as a vibraphone major, he moved to Rio in the early 80s to totally immerse himself in music and culture of Brazil.
A regular Monday night gig at the popular Rio club, Club 21, soon demonstrated his acceptance by Brazilian musicians. Meurkens' poignant, emotionally affecting harmonica proved to be a sound that Brazilians strongly embraced, and during his Rio days, he met many musicians who later became collaborators in both Europe and New York.
Back in Germany by '83, he became a respected studio musician, recording with European Radio Orchestras and leading his own groups, as well as accompanying visiting legends like Harry 'Sweets' Edison and Buddy Tate.
Within ten years, he had established himself as the "new jazz harmonica voice," and moved to New York, thanks to an exclusive contract with the prestigious label, Concord Records. He has since recorded fifteen albums, and continues to perform as both a guest artist, and with his own groups, both in festivals and clubs globally.
Hendrik Meurkens' profound involvement in both jazz and Brazilian music resulted in a very personal and instantly recognizable version of samba-jazz. This music, a cross-cultural amalgam guaranteed to touch the heart, features his harmonica and vibes along with piano, bass and drums, playing his stirring originals and arrangements. The group has been documented on a number of CDs, such as "October Colors". Many Brazilian musicians have recorded with him: Cesar Machado, Jacaré, Claudio Roditi and Duduka da Fonseca, among others. He also covered tunes by the great NY-based Brazilian maestro Gaudencio Thiago de Mello.
As a featured artist, he has recorded with Charlie Byrd, Jimmy Cobb, Ivan Lins, Monty Alexander, Manfredo Fest and Mundell Lowe, as well as backing such leading artists as Astrud Gilberto and Olivia Newton John and touring with the Ray Brown Trio, Paquito D'Rivera, Oscar Castro Neves, Herb Ellis, Herbie Mann, Charlie Byrd, and James Moody among many others. Also a successful composer (his compositions have been recorded by other artists and featured in the Hollywood movie, "Dolores Claiborne,") Hendrik Meurkens remains equally at home playing jazz or Brazilian music. "My mission is simple," he explains. "I want to create music of great beauty."