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Hendrik Meurkens & Bill Cunliffe | Cabin in the Sky

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Jazz: Chamber Jazz Jazz: Piano Jazz Moods: Instrumental
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Cabin in the Sky

by Hendrik Meurkens & Bill Cunliffe

Hendrik Meurkens is widely regarded as today’s pre-eminent jazz harmonica player in the tradition of Toots Thielemans. This album features lyrical duo music with master pianist Bill Cunliffe in the spirit of the classic Bill Evans/ Toots Thielemans collaboration.
Genre: Jazz: Chamber Jazz
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Cabin in the Sky
Hendrik Meurkens & Bill Cunliffe
4:20 $0.99
2. Afternoon
Hendrik Meurkens & Bill Cunliffe
5:03 $0.99
3. Miyako
Hendrik Meurkens & Bill Cunliffe
4:45 $0.99
4. Young and Fine
Hendrik Meurkens & Bill Cunliffe
4:26 $0.99
5. You Don't Know
Hendrik Meurkens & Bill Cunliffe
3:37 $0.99
6. Invitation
Hendrik Meurkens & Bill Cunliffe
5:03 $0.99
7. Time to Say Goodbye
Hendrik Meurkens & Bill Cunliffe
4:49 $0.99
8. Ode to Billy Joe
Hendrik Meurkens & Bill Cunliffe
5:05 $0.99
9. Prague in March
Hendrik Meurkens & Bill Cunliffe
6:03 $0.99
10. Speak Low
Hendrik Meurkens & Bill Cunliffe
7:38 $0.99
11. Wave
Hendrik Meurkens & Bill Cunliffe
5:50 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Hendrik Meurkens and Bill Cunliffe present a dynamic harmonica/piano collaboration on their new release, Cabin in the Sky.
Two bright-star jazz instrumentalists present unique takes on originals and seldom-heard gems on this must-hear recording, Cabin in the Sky

Jazz harmonica maven Hendrik Meurkens teams up with acclaimed pianist Bill Cunliffe to present a unique and wonderful mix of tunes on their new duo album, Cabin in the Sky. In addition to several originals, the CD includes compositions by outstanding contributors to the jazz repertoire including Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul, and Antonio Carlos Jobim, plus surprises like a sultry, bluesy version of “Ode to Billie Joe,” the 1967 hit from pop/country singer Bobbie Gentry.
Coincidentally, “Ode to Billie Joe” is one of several of the compositions on the album that have their roots in Broadway shows and movies, including the title track, “Invitation,” and “Speak Low.” According to Meurkens, “We did not choose the material with that in mind but as it happens some of the best songs out there are written for Broadway, and I love a good song. I am not so much interested in breaking the latest barrier and pushing the jazz envelope but I am interested in playing beautiful music that warms the heart.”

Cabin in the Sky highlights include:

“Afternoon”: Cunliffe wrote the rich string arrangements that add such warmth and delicacy to this Meurkens composition.

Levity meets virtuosity in this delightfully unique version of Jobim’s “Wave,” replete with references to “Smoke on the Water.”

Written by the unlikely duo of Kurt Weill and Ogden Nash, “Speak Low” is played at a slightly sprightlier pace than usual, but with great feeling nevertheless.

Cabin in the Sky is the first recording for Meurkens and Cunliffe, who have talked about meeting in the studio for years, perhaps inspired in part by Affinity, the classic harmonica/piano collaboration of Toots Thielemans and Bill Evans. “This CD goes a little bit in that direction, as it features mostly lyrical material, which is where the harmonica shines anyway,” notes the German-born, New York-based Meurkens.

Hearing the legendary Toots Thielemans inspired Meurkens to switch to harmonica from his original instrument, vibes. Now widely regarded as today’s pre-eminent jazz harmonica player in the tradition of Toots Thielemans, Meurkens is also an acclaimed composer in jazz, Latin, and Brazilian styles. Having released more than two dozen albums as leader or co-leader, Meurkens is also an in-demand sideman and soloist, appearing with Jimmy Cobb, Ivan Lins, Monty Alexander, Claudio Roditi, Astrid Gilberto, Ray Brown, Paquito D’Rivera, and others.
Pianist Bill Cunliffe has proved himself at home in multiple settings from this duo to trios, big bands, Latin bands, and classical-jazz ensembles; he is also an acclaimed soloist with symphony orchestras. A Grammy-winning arranger, Cunliffe has received multiple Emmy and Grammy nominations, and has released more than a dozen albums as a leader, authored several books, and composed several film scores. He is an in-demand jazz sideman, having worked with masters including Frank Sinatra, Buddy Rich, Joe Henderson, Woody Shaw, Freddie Hubbard, James Moody, and Benny Golson.
With Cabin in the Sky Meurkens and Cunliffe reveal a new side to their virtuosity. Let’s hope this simpatico duo won’t keep listeners waiting too long for a follow up to this great new CD.



to write a review

Joe Ross, Roots Music Report

Clarion, poignant and lyrical music
Hendrik Meurkens (chromatic harmonica) and Bill Cunliffe (piano) make a fine pair to present this set of easy listening, relaxing jazz. The title cut is a bouncy and melodic opener, and I was pleased to see the setlist also include a couple originals from each of the collaborators. Meurkens’ “Afternoon” has a full sound complemented by some strings arranged by Cunliffe. The New York-based harmonica player also wrote “Praque in March,” that has a more contemplative, reflective and dreamy mood. Cunliffe's "You Don't Know" is a perfect vehicle for both musicians to blues it up a tad. Cunliffe’s "Time to Say Goodbye" is another breezy composition that has a very soothing quality. These two musicians clearly have an affability and camaraderie that come through in their clarion, poignant and lyrical music. Some may think the instrumentation a little sparse, but piano and harmonica actually work quite well together. If any question, experience the clarity of expression and depth of emotion on other pieces like Cabin in the Sky, Miyako, Young and Fine, Ode to Billie Joe, and Wave. (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)