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Conrad Herwig: Another Kind of Blue: The Latin Side of Miles Davis

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Trombonist Conrad Herwig established both his serious interest and major credentials in reinterpreting classic jazz with 1996’s Grammy-nominated The Latin Side of John Coltrane. With Another Kind of Blue, he scales the monolith again, this time reworking Miles Davis’ 1959 masterwork. For this live date (recorded at New York’s Blue Note), he assembled a team worthy of such an ambitious undertaking, including trumpeter and unofficial co-leader Brian Lynch, who contributed some of the arrangements. The guests, including Cuban reedist Paquito D’Rivera and flutist Dave Valentin, are old friends of Herwig and their camaraderie makes for a lively intersection of straightahead, Latin and Afro-Caribbean stylings. On “Freddie Freeloader” the Latin influence remains muted until about the midpoint. Valentin’s spirited solo notwithstanding, the only Latin elements are occasional staccato blasts from Richie Flores’ congas. Thereafter, the group’s improvisational flair kicks in and juicy solos from D’Rivera, Lynch, bassist John Benitiz and pianist Edsel Gomez impart that Latin strut. “All Blues,” with its 4/4 meter retained from Miles’ original, moves along at a leisurely pace, as does “Flamenco Sketches”-but with no lack of invention within their well-known frames.

Herwig and his group bring the project to a slightly ominous close with “Petits Machins,” the only track not taken originally from Kind of Blue (it comes from Filles de Kilimanjaro). The horn solos, particularly Herwig’s own edgy riffs, are laced with portentous evocations laid over a similarly coiled rhythm section. Finally unleashed, drummer Robby Ameen and Flores open fire, alternately soaring and dive-bombing with salvos of percussion.