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Interviews

Michel Camilo: Live From New York

By Published: October 16, 2003
“I try to set aside some time during the year to compose, especially if I have a new project coming up, like a recording or a commissioned piece. I like to be challenged. When there’s a new project, the juices begin flowing and I just go with it. It can be any type of project. It can be symphonic, a solo project or even a trio piece. I just love to write. It’s really important, because it contributes to my sound.”

Even when he writes for classical performances, there are still elements of jazz tossed in, he says. He finds it appeals to both audiences, and the live performances get good reaction. “The good thing about the five times I played my piano concerto [on his European tour] was two of them were jazz festivals, one was a World Beat festival and the other two were in a classical series. It’s really nice to see how the audience responded in each one of the environments to a classically-thought-out piece. We had sold-out audiences and I had to play two or three encores at the end. The audience just enjoyed the piece. That’s what you want as a composer. It helps me to be the composer/performer as well.”

Camilo has been touring like a madman playing Triangulo and will start playing repertoire from the new CD as of the end of August. He has a European tour booked for his jazz trio and also has more classical concerts planned, as well as teaching gigs at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. So for Camilo, business remains good, his audience remains strong and things are going well.

Triangulo did very well, and it’s still doing well worldwide,” says Camilo, noting that while playing the material in early August at the Newport Jazz festival in Rhode Island, it turned into a jam session when David Sanchez was asked to sit in with his saxophone. “After playing Triangulo, we had a big jam session on two standards that lasted 25 minutes. The audience went wild and gave us a standing ovation. I love doing that.”

Jam sessions also spur Camilo’s creative juices. Like one in German this summer with Joe Lovano. “We never played together. And had not played together all the way to the concert. When we got together for the sound check, we just picked the standards and played a whole set of standards. It was a three-part concert. We both played solo. Then at the end, we did the encounter. That was quite exciting.

“That’s something that I never want to miss out on. Because jazz has that immediacy, especially when you jam with another fellow. You kind of communicate with each other and it’s really exciting when you have never played together before to see if you can create sparks, so to speak.”

Creative sparks are common with Camilo and his daring trio. So he’s got a right be excited. And with the new live recording, so do jazz fans.


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