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Conrad Herwig's nonet explores the Latin side of jazz, and his band mines the fun (party) side as well. The Afro-Cuban/Afro-Caribbean component that makes up the art we call jazz has always been the party side.
Following up on the trombonist's recordings Another Kind Of Blue: The Latin Side of Miles Davis (2005), The Latin Side Of John Coltrane (1996) and Que Viva Coltrane (2004) is this live session recorded at the Blue Note jazz club in New York 2003. The centerpiece is the nearly 25-minute title track, the infamous collaboration between Miles Davis and Gil Evans. The trombonist Herwig and his co-leader, trumpeter Brian Lynch, welcome guests Paquito D'Rivera and Dave Valentine to this furious and entertaining date.
The session opens with two spirited tracks, "Solar and "Seven Steps To Heaven. These tracks are nearly perfect vehicles for a Latin touch. Herwig 's playing was inspired with this sound after stints in the bands of Eddie Palmieri, Mario Bauza and Dizzy Gillespie. Application of the clave to Miles might not be your first thought, but the overtly danceable "Solar honors not only Davis' composition, but also the nightclubs where it was originally played.
The nonet stretches out a bit more on "Sketches Of Spain. D'Rivera's clarinet opens the account here, signaling the others to follow with some extraordinary playing. Then it's Herwig's turn to solo. He plays his trombone with all the control you would expect from a trumpeter, ending his solo with nifty multiphonic playing. Then, boom, we are off again with Richie Flores' percussion and congas. The piece stretches into Lynch's muted trumpet solo, which bridges into a bit of a Albert Ayler-like march! And back again with the luscious work of D'Rivera, this time on alto saxophone.
The disc ends with "Petits Machins, from Filles de Kilimanjaro, a percussion-filled eruption of joy and energy. If you have to choose sides, there is no better one the the Latin side.
Track Listing: Solar, Seven Steps To Heaven, Sketches Of Spain, Petits Machins.
Personnel: Conrad Herwig: trombone; Brian Lynch: trumpet; Paquito DRivera; alto saxophone, clarinet;
Dave Valentin: Flute; Mario Rivera: baritone saxophone; Edsel Gomez: Piano; John Benitez::
bass; Robby Ameen: drums; Richie Flores: congas, percussion.
I love jazz because it mixes intellect and emotion in a very spontaneous way.
I was first exposed to jazz by liberating a Coltrane and a Pharoah Sanders record from a friend in NYC and listening to them over and over until I got it.
My advice to new listeners is you have to take the time to listen to some jazz tunes a number of times until it starts to make sense.