Cabin in the Sky
A new album of duets between the harmonica wizard Meurkens and pianist Cunliffe mixes some originals with some Broadway and pop standards that will delight listeners. The elegance of Cunliffe's piano and Meurkens harmonica mastery is evident with the opening title track Meurkens certainly displays the skills that have some to label him as the successor to Toots Thielemans, while Cuniliffe's accompaniment and solo dances in its own way as well. Cunliffe provided a string arrangement for the wistful original from Meurkens, "Afternoon," followed by the duo's lovely rendition of Wayne Shorter's "Miyako," and a lively rendition of Joe Zawinul's "Young and Fine."
Cunliffe's "You Don't Know," is a lightly swinging blues-inflected number, while "Invitation" is warmly interpreted. The Cunliffe/McConnell number, "Time to Say Goodbye," has a reflective quality. There is surprise to be heardin a performance of "Ode to Billie Joe," as Meurkens harmonica sings the Bobby Gentry lyrics. Cuniliffe's piano provides some bounce to "Speak Low." An imaginative take of Jobim's "Wave," has references to "Smoke on the Water" in the closing performance of a recording by two kindred souls, full of marvelous playing that displays their virtuosity, imagination, and wit.
I received my review copy from a publicist. I have made some stylistic edits and corrections to the review that originally appeared in the July-August Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 379). Here is a promotional video for the recording.