Ever since he started taking harmonica solos in the mid-'50s, Toots Thielemans has been without any close competition on his instrument, at least until Hendrik Meurkens arrived on the scene. Born in Germany to Dutch parents, Meurkens began as a vibraphonist, not playing harmonica until he heard Thielemans when he was 19. He traveled to the U.S. to study at Berklee and spent time in Brazil in the early '80s, during which he immersed himself in Brazilian jazz. Back in Berlin, Meurkens worked in the studios, but also recorded with the Danish Radio Orchestra and had his own jazz group. He made a record in Brazil for the Bellaphon label (1989) and since 1991 has recorded several sets for Concord and Concord Picante as a leader, in addition to appearing on records as a sideman with Charlie Byrd. ~ Scott Yanow
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