Michel Camilo: Pianist for a Golden Era
You'd be surprised, in South America there is a big jazz audience as well. Especially in the Caribbean basin. I would say safely that all the islands have at least one jazz festival. And they're big. I've been going to the Puerto Rico Heineken Jazz Fest for the last five years. And there it happens four nights in a row, outdoors and the audience is at least 4,000 people every night. Even Berklee College of Music comes with some teachers for the festival week and they teach there, then they give a scholarship to the best student to bring to Boston. So there's a lot of interest.
And of course there's the Cuba one. The one in Havana is huge. I got invited to that one by Chucho Valdez, who's a very good friend. We have collaborated together. We have played duets all over Europe, as well. And here at Carnegie Hall.
So it's really good to see that jazz is expanding so good, so fast.
AAJ: You have a rigorous schedule. You seem to be busy and things are going well.
MC: I can't complain. You know, when I moved to New York at the beginning of the 80s, things were a little bit darker, in a way. The prognosis for jazz was not that good. I remember reading that jazz was dead. I said, "Oh my god, I got here late!" [laughter] I was really in shock. But luckily from the mid-80s on, I guess with all the young blood that came, things started moving slowly but surely upward for jazz. The 90s, of course, jazz really took off. And nowadays we live in that golden era, which is worldwide. Because the rest of the world caught up to what was going on here in the US. It's a good thing. I'm glad it's going on like that. I hope it lasts.
But I can see the young blood and the young players that are coming up. It's really good to see that the music keeps on standing.
Visit Michel Camilo on the web at www.michelcamilo.com .