Conrad Herwig: Osteology
Never mind that Herwig's originals and arrangements of a few superior standards make gratifying use of the two-bone front line, this disc simply kicks ass from the first note to the last. These men are the top in their field and when they get together some serious business is likely to be the output. Pianist David Kikoski has never sounded better or more intense, with bassist James Genus and drummer "Tain" Watts kicking up enough dirt to instigate the next dust bowl. Just check the tempo on "Devil May Care," with Davis and Herwig not even flinching as they weave a complex tapestry of interrelated choruses. And just when you thought there'd be no way to revive "It Ain't Necessarily So?" Well, you'd be wrong, with Herwig and crew's catchy funk vamp married to a smart harmony line from the bones.
Once you've digested this disc via a few focused hearings, switch your attention to the contrasting styles of Herwig (heard on the right channel) and Davis (heard on the left). Although they both have chops to burn, Herwig may arguably be the more impressive in this area. His clarity and intonation at any speed is simply amazing, while his sound is based on such mainstream heroes as Carl Fontana and Frank Rosolino. Sly quotes are also part and parcel for Herwig, with a nice extrapolation of Hank Mobley's "The Breakthrough" worked into his opening solo on "Syeeda's Song Flute." Davis is certainly no slouch, with a crisp attack and burnished tone that recalls Curtis Fuller's best work. In addition, his solos possess a logical and highly-melodic quality that make them extremely user-friendly.
If you've yet to catch the humor in the album's title, simply understand that "osteo" refers to bones (in medical terms) and "ology" means "the study of." Not only is it clever, but it also deftly summarizes the great thought and care that went into this project. Safe to say, this one comes highly recommended.
Track Listing: Syeeda's Song Flute, Kenny K., Devil May Care, First Born, Fire, It Ain't Necessarily So, You Don't Know What Love Is, Osteology (60:51)
Personnel: Conrad Herwig- trombone, Steve Davis- trombone, David Kikoski- piano, James Genus- bass, Jeff "Tain" Watts- drums
Record Label: Criss Cross