In recent years, trumpeter Brian Lynch and trombonist Conrad Herwig were part of one of Eddie Palmieri's better late period ensembles, proving to be an incendiary addition to a high-octane ensemble dedicated to the fiery hybrid most folks refer to as salsa. It's perfectly logical then for the pair to team up for a recent project fashioning Latin jazz treatments of several John Coltrane classics. Wisely, they have chosen to bring on board a crew of musicians steeped in the tradition, with pianist Edsel Gomez and drummer Robby Ameen being particularly integral to the overall success of the music.
On the whole, Herwig and Lynch have chosen well, and each arrangement grooves with its own identity, still retaining the essence of the original. "Miles Mode is particularly ripe for the Latin treatment. Its long form melody extends over several bars with a percolating clave beat tailor made for expansive solos from the horn men and Gomez, not to mention some fiery exchanges by Lynch and Herwig towards the tune's conclusion.
A challenge taken at a swift jazz tempo, the rapid-fire changes of "Countdown pose an even riskier proposition when made to fit the Latin mold. Pay particular attention on this one to the way that drummer Ameen and conguero Richie Flores meld their contributions into one strong groove, with the electric bass of John Benitez anchoring the bottom end. A sign of our leading men's thorough understanding of the Latin music tradition, each piece seems perfectly suited to its new treatment. On "Grand Central, the three-horn front line fills out the melody with rich harmonies and a sound bigger than mere numbers would seem to suggest.
On the gentler side, "Wise One and "Central Park West waft along with supporting rhythms of a lighter nature. The disc concludes when all the stops are pulled out for "Locomotion, an early Trane opus of somewhat demanding structure that debuted on his legendary Blue Train. Ameen gets to trade phrases with the horns near the end, turning up the heat before a bacchanalian closing caps off a perfect meeting of the minds where Latin and jazz sensibilities merge to create a unified whole. The fact that Herwig and Lynch have made it sound so deceptively simple attests to the time the pair has spent studying and honing their skills within an idiom that has become almost second nature to them both.
Track Listing: Lonnie's Lament, Miles Mode, Wise One, Countdown, Central Park West, Grand Central, Straight Street, Locomotion
Personnel: Conrad Herwig (trombone), Brian Lynch (trumpet), Mario Rivera (sax and flute), Edsel Gomez (piano), John Benitez (bass), Robby Ameen (drums), Richie Flores (percussion)
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.