Latin Side of Horace Silver
For two and a half decades, trombonist Conrad Herwig has been putting an Afro-Latin spin on straightahead jazz with his “Latin Side of” recordings. For his latest project, The Latin Side of Horace Silver (Savant), Herwig dives into the songbook of the “Hardbop Grandpop,” whose grounding in the folk music of Cape Verde makes him an ideal subject for Afro-Latinization. Joined by a band of A-listers — saxophonists Igor Butman and Craig Handy, trumpeter Alex Sipiagin, pianist Bill O’Connell, bassist Ruben Rodriguez, drummer Robby Ameen and conguero Richie Flores — Herwig emphasizes the Latin rhythms of the Silver repertoire, reimagining classics such as “Song for My Father” and “Filthy McNasty,” with arranging assistance from O’Connell. The album kicks off with a sterling read of “Nica’s Dream,” as Flores’ congas drive the action on the bottom end, and the horns play in joyous unison. Maestro Herwig takes the first solo spot, setting a high bar for his band mates, which they reach with aplomb, cheered on by a live audience (remember those?). Similarly, the flag-waving opener is a hard act to follow, but Herwig and company (including pianist Michel Camilo, who guests on three tracks) are more than up to the task, providing fresh interpretations from a beloved songbook.