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Artist Profiles

The Latin Side of Conrad Herwig

By Published: April 24, 2004
“John Coltrane had a definite affinity for Afro-Caribbean and Afro-Brazilian music, and even in the music of India,” states Herwig. “After all, he wrote tunes titled ‘Brasilia,’ ‘Africa Brass’ and ‘India.’ In addition, there are definite clave bass lines in his music – that 2-3 clave rhythm.” The relationship between Latin music and the work of Miles Davis isn’t as obvious according to Herwig. But in terms of basic rhythms and the way Davis structured his tunes to encourage improvisation, Herwig and Lynch found enough connections to make the project interesting and rewarding.

“During Miles’ fusion era, he used Latin percussionists and got that Afro-Caribbean influence directly,” explains Herwig. “But in his other music, there’s a less obvious connection – unless you go back to the roots of jazz in African rhythms. As Eddie Palmieri once said, ‘It’s the 40,000 year history of the rhythmic patterns that’s the foundation.’ So because Miles’ music is so strong rhythmically and the inherent characteristics of those rhythms exist in many styles of Afro-Caribbean music, we found a way to deal with the connections. In addition, one of the great things about Mile’s music is that it provides a great structure for improvisation. Miles wanted his musicians to have a lot of freedom to improvise, and encouraged them to create their own musical ideas. So there’s a natural freedom in the music’s structure that allows us to try and find something fresh in it from our perspective.”

In fact Herwig, Lynch and the other members of the band found so many “Latin sides of Miles” that enough material was recorded to fill up a second CD that will focus on the classic Davis recording, Sketches of Spain. The prolific results of the recording sessions for the Miles Davis project as well as the recent Coltrane sessions has also solidified the collaboration between Herwig and Lynch – who by mutual agreement are now co-leaders of the band.

“The first Miles release will actually come out under my name,” explains Herwig. But now Brian and I have agreed to co-lead the working group. There’s such a strong feeling of collaboration between us, and it goes way back. I’m not one to exaggerate, but over the years, Brian and I have probably done about 1,000 gigs together. Of course, we still have to figure out the billing for the band now that we’re co-leaders. We’re joking that whoever gets the gig gets first billing!”

Visit Conrad Herwig on the web at .

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