Conrad Herwig: The Latin Side Of Joe Henderson

Dan Bilawsky BY

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Conrad Herwig: The Latin Side Of Joe Henderson
So what makes The Latin Side Of Joe Henderson different from trombonist Conrad Herwig's previous Latin Side albums? Well, for starters, Herwig played with Henderson for several years, an experience which gave him great insight into the music and the man who made it. Then there's the material itself. Henderson's music, more so than that of previous Latin Side honorees like Herbie Hancock or John Coltrane, is tailor-made for this type of project, as some of the songs already lean toward the Latin side.

This album, recorded live at New York's Blue Note in July of 2012, gives Herwig and some other A-list musicians—featured guest Joe Lovano and trumpeter Alex Sipiagin chief among them—a chance to cut loose on six spicy numbers. Stellar arrangements, feisty percussive tides, and strong solos are all here, as expected, but that doesn't mean things are predictable. Plenty of surprises await.

Herwig and company cook right out of the gate with a sizzling "Recorda Me." Hot saxophone work, fun exchanges between Herwig and Sipiagin, winning piano work from Bill O'Connell, and over-a-vamp soloing from drummer Robby Ameen and percussionist Richie Flores all help to make this a memorable one. Next comes the Latin hard bop blues of "Mamacita," which proves to be another album highlight, followed by "Afro-Centric," which features some tight ensemble work and memorable soloing. The gentler flow of "Black Narcissus" serves as a brief respite from the heat, but the temperature rises again with the musical one-two punch that brings the album to its end. First up is "Blue Bossa," which finds Sipiagin in fiery form and features a thrilling percussion breakdown over a vamp in seven. Then the group finishes off with "Inner Urge," which may be the best showcase for Herwig's writing; the band sounds like it's twice its true size here.

Herwig finished a stint at the Blue Note with his Latin Side Of Horace Silver project shortly before this review went to press, so it's fairly certain that this won't be the final Latin Side release. This will, however, be hard to top.

Track Listing

Recorda Me; Mamacita; Afro-Centric; Black Narcissus; Blue Bossa; Inner Urge.


Conrad Herwig: trombone; Joe Lovano: tenor saxophone; Ronnie Cuber: baritone saxophone; Alex Sipiagin: trumpet; Bill O'Connell: piano; Ruben Rodriguez: bass; Robby Ameen: drums; Richie Flores: percussion.

Album information

Title: The Latin Side Of Joe Henderson | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Half Note Records

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