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Conrad Herwig/Andy LaVerne: Shades of Light

For Shades of Light (SteepleChase) the duo of trombonist Conrad Herwig and pianist Andy LaVerne chose some great tunes by great writers-the likes of Corea, Coltrane, Jobim, Ellington and Brubeck-but the results are not great. LaVerne’s overactive left hand does not give Herwig’s trombone enough space. The art of comping includes the art of discreet silence. There is no way to denigrate the technical skills or harmonic sense of either player, but the constant rhythmic jabbing can impede the flow of the swing. Worst effort: McCoy Tyner’s waltz “Three Flowers,” where LaVerne’s constant syncopation eventually creates a plodding four-over-three that threatens to overshadow Herwig’s awesome technique. Best collaboration: Joe Henderson’s “Black Narcissus,” where LaVerne opens up a bit following a mysterioso and impressionistic intro and enhances Herwig’s consistently silken tone. Most interesting track: Brubeck’s “In Your Own Sweet Way,” where the challenging changes bring out the most creative moments by both as they trade eights, then fours.

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