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Hendrik Meurkens: harmonicus rex

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Hendrik Meurkens has long doubled successfully on vibraphone and the chromatic harmonica. Now, more than 25 years into his recording career as a leader, he stands as arguably the most fluid and fluent jazz harmonica player this side of the great Toots Thielemans, whose playing inspired Meurkens to teach himself harmonica.

For harmonicus rex, the German-born Meurkens, a longtime New Yorker, focuses exclusively on his “other” instrument, sort of the lead “horn” in a frontline that variously includes first-call NYC trumpeter Joe Magnarelli and Anders Bostrom on alto flute. They play together only once, on Milt Jackson’s “SKJ,” a swinging blues with three-part harmony, and leave us wanting to hear more of their combination of tones and textures.

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