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Latin Side All Stars are out with a new album

(SOUNDBITE OF CONRAD HERWIG AND THE LATIN SIDE ALL STARS SONG, "HORA DECUBITUS")

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

That's from the new album by Conrad Herwig and the Latin Side All Stars.

(SOUNDBITE OF CONRAD HERWIG AND THE LATIN SIDE ALL STARS SONG, "HORA DECUBITUS")

MARTIN: The album is called "The Latin Side Of Mingus," and it's a tribute to and reimagining of the music of jazz legend Charles Mingus.

(SOUNDBITE OF CONRAD HERWIG AND THE LATIN SIDE ALL STARS SONG, "HORA DECUBITUS")

CONRAD HERWIG: We're thinking about the melody and what Mingus had written, and then we're sort of intuitively improvising and I call it rope-a-doping to create that that spontaneity.

(SOUNDBITE OF CONRAD HERWIG AND THE LATIN SIDE ALL STARS SONG, "GUNSLINGING BIRD")

HERWIG: This is "Gunslinging Bird," and this was dedicated to the great Charlie Parker. And we've adapted it to the Afro-Cuban 6/4 patterns and, you know, some fantastic solos.

(SOUNDBITE OF CONRAD HERWIG AND THE LATIN SIDE ALL STARS SONG, "GUNSLINGING BIRD")

HERWIG: When people talk about jazz soloing, it's a wonderful thing. But there's also this concept which really is improvisation of spontaneous composition. So it's utilizing the original form of Mingus's music and then composing spontaneously over the top.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NO DEJES QUE PASE AQUI")

RUBEN BLADES: (Non-English language spoken).

HERWIG: This is "No Dejes Que Pase Aqui," which means "Don't Let It Happen Here." This is the incomparable Ruben Blades, who's one of the great vocalists. And our idea was to take Mingus's original piece, "Don't Let It Happen Here," which is an adaptation of Martin Niemoller's poem from World War II. And then the idea with Ruben was to put it into Spanish and to combine that with an Afro-Caribbean setting and Afro-Cuban form. And so that was what we did. And it's very important to us for people to know that, you know, if you're silent, you're as guilty as they are. And that was Mingus's message.

(SOUNDBITE OF CONRAD HERWIG AND THE LATIN SIDE ALL STARS SONG, "DUKE ELLINGTON'S SOUND OF LOVE")

HERWIG: This is "Duke Ellington's Sound Of Love" - features the electric piano, the Fender Rhodes piano. And this is a classic Mingus ballad. And the reimagination on this one is as a yambu. There's columbia, guaguanco and yambu, which is the slowest form. And we thought it would be great to superimpose "Duke Ellington's Sound Of Love" as a yambu - very beautiful rhythmic flow.

(SOUNDBITE OF CONRAD HERWIG AND THE LATIN SIDE ALL STARS SONG, "DUKE ELLINGTON'S SOUND OF LOVE")

MARTIN: Herwig and the Latin Side All Stars have been touring and playing together for more than 25 years, and this week, they will begin their newest residency.

HERWIG: We'll be performing in New York City at the Django, which is in the basement of the Roxy Hotel. And our residency will be - it's sort of a dream come true to be able to play this music but then to be able to just put your own stamp on it and to try to personalize it. And, you know, it is a fusion. It's the fusion of now. And we're extremely happy to be able to perform and present this.

MARTIN: The ensemble's latest album, "The Latin Side Of Mingus," is available now and you can catch them in person at the Django in New York City starting January 17.

(SOUNDBITE OF CONRAD HERWIG AND THE LATIN SIDE ALL STARS SONG, "DUKE ELLINGTON'S SOUND OF LOVE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.