Al McKibbon

Tumbao Para los Conqueros Di

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Translated as For All the Conga Drummers in My Life, this album is the 80-year-old bassist's first recording as a leader. He's joined by the percussionists for Poncho Sanchez's band -- Ramon Banda on timbales, and conga-bongo man Jose "Papo" Rodriquez. Phil Wright is the pianist, Justo Almario plays soprano on two tracks, and Charles Owen makes some definitive contributions throughout, especially on flute.

These eight tracks are Afro-Cuban jazz stylings, including a ballad called "Everything Must Change," where McKibbon sings quite soulfully. Three cuts showcase Owen's truly outstanding flute -- the patient "Tin Tin Deo"; a slow showstopper, "Estate," where he reaches foggy, ethereal realms; and "Cubano Chant," with Almario's soprano leading the way. "Seven Steps to Heaven" also has Almario playing the melody -- incorrectly the first time through, but getting it right the second. McKibbon cues the band into action before and after a lengthy solo for Thelonious Monk's "Off Minor,," and during the title track, before fronting a lengthy descarga jam with the percussionists. Another Monk tune, "I Mean You," showcases Owen's sweet saxophone. Featuring a fine outing by McKibbon and spirited all-around playing, the record is a good addition to the growing Latin jazz discography.

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