Trombonist Conrad Herwig, a key member of Eddie Palmieri’s La Perfecta II group from the early 2000s as well as a longtime and current member of the Mingus Big Band, has been doing Latin jazz-themed tributes to jazz icons since 1996’s Grammy-nominated The Latin Side of John Coltrane. This clave-fueled tribute to Charles Mingus combines two parallel aspects of his outstanding career. A superior technician on his instrument, which he showcases in stellar solos on salsafied renditions of Mingus’ “Boogie Stop Shuffle,” “Gunslinging Bird,” and “Better Get Hit in Your Soul,” Herwig also benefits greatly from the tight rhythm section of pianist Bill O’Connell, bassist Luques Curtis, drummer Robby Ameen, and churning conguero Camilo Molina, who collectively drive these tracks with plenty of fuego. Other soloistic highlights include trumpeter Randy Brecker’s high-note attack on “Boogie Stop Shuffle” and the three-way trading over a son montuno groove between Herwig, Brecker, and saxophonist Craig Handy on a pulse-quickening “Hora Decubitus.” Regular Mingus Big Band trumpeter Alex Sipiagin also shines on a cha cha version of “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” and a beautiful bolero take on “Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love” that features his radiant flugelhorn playing.
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