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Sunday, June 27, 2004

LISTENING POST

RECORDED

Conrad Herwig: "Another Kind of Blue"


On "Another Kind of Blue," leader/trombonist Conrad Herwig and trumpeter/arranger Brian Lynch update, into Latin jazz, what is Miles Davis', and perhaps jazz's, most listened to recording, "Kind of Blue." Latin jazz has often taken cues from Miles Davis, but this collection of New York's finest Latin jazz players offers up an astonishingly rich and thorough tribute.

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Putting the five famed tracks in the exact same order as Miles' original record at first seems overly pious in its devotion (only the final track, "Petits Machins," is taken from another album). However, the nine Latin jazz stalwarts offer their praise in the form of sustained solos and fiery interplay. Recorded live over a week-long engagement in New York, the musicians draws on the crowd's energy for long improvisations. Cuban sax player Paquito D'Rivera and flutist Dave Valentin are particularly inspired.

The contrast with Davis' 1959 record is endlessly fascinating. "Blue in Green" sounds just as pretty in bolero style as it did as a sleek minimalist ballad 45 years ago. Their Latinized version of "So What" has a playfulness and extroverted energy that contrasts sharply with the measured, pensive feeling of Miles' original.

More than just a fascinating concept (which this group also applied to the music of John Coltrane), "Another Kind of Blue" employs diverse sources in just the way that Miles himself loved doing -- with creative tension and a profound sense of cool. As Herwig says at the end, "Que viva Miles Davis!"



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