Album Remarks & Appraisals:
"The world will never pay enough homage to the music of John Coltrane. Having his music translated into the Latin idiom isn't a huge stretch, considering that many of his tunes had strong Afro-Cuban roots.
Placing Trane en clave was a challenge that trombonist Conrad Herwig and trumpeter Brian Lynch happily accepted when they conceived Que Viva Coltrane , a humble offering to the immortal saxophonist in which they successfully translated some of Trane's most famous tunes into the Latin idiom.
"Lonnie's Lament" showcases the chops of flautist Mario Rivera , Herwig and Lynch, all of whom play excellent solos. The intricate arrangement of "Miles' Mode" is played in mambo rhythm, with Rivera's baritone sax leading the brass charge. Robby Ameen and Richie Flores solo on drums and congas, respectively, before Herwig and Lynch's spirited exchange take the song out on high.
Pianist Edsel Gomez states the melody on "Wise One," with Herwig's lovely solo leading into the doubling of the rhythm and crisp soloing by Lynch and Gomez. John Benitez ' wicked electric bass at the beginning of "Countdown" may recall Coltrane's blistering opening, but it certainly has its roots laid down in Jaco Pastorius. The brass picks up the baton and races to the finish, with Trane's signature at the end declaring victory.
Lynch's fluegelhorn is the standout among the fine brass arrangement of "Central Park West," and "Grand Central" features another mean baritone solo by Rivera. The breezy, arrangement of "Straight Street" evokes the warmth of a Carribbean island, providing a relaxing respite before "Locomotion" brings things to a rousing end.
Although Coltrane inspired this fine disc, the arrangements and overall spirit owe as much to Tito Puente and Machito as they do to Trane. It's almost a certainty that somewhere, all three men are beaming like proud parents." -AllAboutJazz
"In recent years, trumpeter Brian Lynch and trombonist Conrad Herwig were part of one of Eddie Palmieri 's better late period ensembles, proving to be an incendiary addition to a high-octane ensemble dedicated to the fiery hybrid most folks refer to as salsa. It's perfectly logical then for the pair to team up for a recent project fashioning Latin jazz treatments of several John Coltrane classics. Wisely, they have chosen to bring on board a crew of musicians steeped in the tradition, with pianist Edsel Gomez and drummer Robby Ameen being particularly integral to the overall success of the music.
On the whole, Herwig and Lynch have chosen well, and each arrangement grooves with its own identity, still retaining the essence of the original. "Miles Mode is particularly ripe for the Latin treatment. Its long form melody extends over several bars with a percolating clave beat tailor made for expansive solos from the horn men and Gomez, not to mention some fiery exchanges by Lynch and Herwig towards the tune's conclusion.
A challenge taken at a swift jazz tempo, the rapid-fire changes of "Countdown pose an even riskier proposition when made to fit the Latin mold. Pay particular attention on this one to the way that drummer Ameen and conguero Richie Flores meld their contributions into one strong groove, with the electric bass of John Benitez anchoring the bottom end. A sign of our leading men's thorough understanding of the Latin music tradition, each piece seems perfectly suited to its new treatment. On "Grand Central, the three-horn front line fills out the melody with rich harmonies and a sound bigger than mere numbers would seem to suggest.
On the gentler side, "Wise One and "Central Park West waft along with supporting rhythms of a lighter nature. The disc concludes when all the stops are pulled out for "Locomotion, an early Trane opus of somewhat demanding structure that debuted on his legendary Blue Train. Ameen gets to trade phrases with the horns near the end, turning up the heat before a bacchanalian closing caps off a perfect meeting of the minds where Latin and jazz sensibilities merge to create a unified whole. The fact that Herwig and Lynch have made it sound so deceptively simple attests to the time the pair has spent studying and honing their skills within an idiom that has become almost second nature to them both." -AllAboutJazz
JazzTimes (pp.126-127) - "[T]hey play some less popular Trane tracks, which fit well into the Latin rhythms."
Personnel: Conrad Herwig (trombone); Conrad Herwig; John Benítez (double bass); Mario Rivera (flute, tenor saxophone); Brian Lynch (trumpet, flugelhorn); Edsel Gomez (piano); Robby Ameen (drums); Richie Flores (congas).
Liner Note Authors: Conrad Herwig; Brian Lynch.
Recording information: Systems Two Recordsing Studios, Brooklyn, NY (12/15/2003).
Photographer: Gildas Boclé.
Arrangers: Conrad Herwig; Brian Lynch.
What more could Latin jazz fans ask for, seriously? Not only are all the players just this side of top guns, they have been playing together in the same group for just shy of ten years. An all-star lineup and the genuine synergy that comes with regular collaboration do not happen often. When they do, well, it's clave magic. Pianist Edsel Gomez's playing is sly and intuitive. Bassist John Benítez, whose Descarga in New York could be one of the decade's most defining Latin jazz records, is strong and confident. Richie Flores is the genre's most underappreciated conguero, and his playing is typically incendiary. Robby Ameen is, of course, among the most in-demand drummers on the scene, and his playing is dazzling as always. Brian Lynch has a voice all his own, and of course Conrad Herwig is one of modern jazz's most influential trombonists. This being Herwig's second go at the Coltrane songbook, the obvious choices are done with, leaving him some gems that were hidden slightly below the surface of public interest. "Lonnie's Lament" is masterfully arranged and funky enough to make your hair stand on end. "Countdown" is at times both graceful and storming. Que Viva Coltrane is a fantastic addition to Herwig's Latin body of work. ~ Evan C. Gutierrez