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Samba Little Samba offers an exciting menu of Brazilian sounds played with a true passion for the music.

Music Review: Gabriel Espinosa and Hendrik Meurkens – ‘Samba Little Samba’

Demonstrating yet once more after their initial successful collaboration on Celebrando that you don’t need to be a Brazilian to have an authentic feel for Brazilian jazz, Mexican bassist Gabriel Espinosa and harmonica/vibes master Hendrik Meurkens are scheduled to release their second album Samba Little Samba on November 11, 2014.

Together with a little help from their friends, they run through a set of 10 tunes. There are four originals each from Espinosa and Meurkens, one by Misha Tsiganov, who plays piano and Fender Rhodes on the album, and a soulful arrangement of the Mexican classic “Besame Mucho” as a vocal duet for Espinosa and guest Tierney Sutton, with some guitar work from Serge Merlaud. The Tsiganov piece “Give Me Five” has the brilliant Anat Cohen on tenor sax.

Tsiganov and Meurkens had played together as a duo on the recently released Junty. The addition of Cohen – rapidly gaining a reputation, and certainly a justified one as perhaps the hottest young reed player around – along with Espinosa makes for some truly engaging music.

-Samba-Little-SambaThe album opens with the title song, a Meurkens piece originally an instrumental recorded as “Sambatropolis,” here updated with English lyrics by Angelita Li sung by Espinosa and Alison Wedding. The excellent Wedding also does the vocal on Meurkens’ “Ocean Lights” and “A Night in Jakarta.” Cohen plays tenor sax on the latter track, and switches to clarinet on Meurkens’ “Choro Da Neve.”

Cohen also plays clarinet on Espinosa’s “A Song for Ray,” a tune written for a former professor, Dr. Ray Martin. “Fe” is a bolero dedicated to his daughter and highlights some melodic vocalise from Wedding, one of many examples on the album. The album closes with Espinosa’s “Encuentro Maya” and “Euro 12.” Featured on the latter is drummer Antonio Sanchez, who plays on all the album’s even-numbered tracks, sharing drumming duties with Adriano Santos, who plays on the odd numbers.

Samba Little Samba offers an exciting menu of Brazilian sounds played with a true passion for the music.

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