Conrad Herwig

In 2003, trombonist Conrad Herwig performed a weeklong engagement at New York's Blue Note with a nine-piece ensemble that featured pianist Edsel Gomez and legendary reedsman Paquito D'Rivera for a show billed as "The Latin Side of Miles Davis." Three nights were recorded, including the Grammy-nominated Another Kind of Blue, released in 2004. Three years after that album hit shelves, Herwig is finally back with the second volume of those live sessions on Sketches of Spain y Mas. The CD opens with "Solar," which here receives a danceable, salsa-inflected arrangement that allows the trombonist to show his chops. There's brilliant piano work by Gomez and strong percussion by Richie Flores on this tune as well. They quickly move on to "Seven Steps to Heaven," a heavily syncopated mambo that serves as a prelude to the album's centerpiece, the 25-minute "Sketches of Spain." Here, Herwig incorporates elements of "Concierto de Aranjuez" and Gil Evans' "Saeta" and "Solea" into one lush track. D'Rivera begins his improvisation on the clarinet with a Middle Eastern feel, growing mellower as the tempo shifts. Each musician offers his best, but it is Gomez who steals the show with his inventive and unpredictable piano solo. Drummers Robby Ameen and Flores use whatever energy they have left by taking turns in a percussive jam session on "Petits Machins," the album's closing track. For lovers of Miles and Afro-Cuban jazz, this disc is highly recommended. — Ernest Barteldes

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Ernest Barteldes