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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Michel Camilo: What's Up

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Jazz piano virtuoso Michel Camilo is known for his bombastic technique. For example, after a set at the Monterey Jazz Festival a couple of years ago, I stuck around and talked to the piano-tuner hired to rejuvenate the strings. He stood shaking his head in dismay after Camilo's hard driving workout, which had been a crowd-pleaser. Camilo's What's Up takes, however, a different approach. This is his second solo effort in his nearly 30-year career, his first ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Michel Camilo: Mano A Mano

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With Mano A Mano, Michel Camilo goes hands-to-hands in spirited exchange with conguero Giovanni Hidalgo, surely hearkening back to the pianist's Dominican/Afro-Cuban roots. This approach results in the great pianist tempering his style. His flamboyant virtuosity is mostly restrained; here, he is more subdued than bombastic. His playing, though, is just as effective, but in a different way. Camilo points out in press notes that Hidalgo plays up to six tuned congas on the CD, resulting in ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Michel Camilo: Spirit of the Moment

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Native of the Dominican Republic, Michel Camilo has forged a highly personal approach to piano composition and performance. His playing is refreshingly devoid of the hypersensitive impressionism practice performed in the wake of Bill Evans and that pianist's acolytes. Camilo's style is strapping and powerful but can encompass gentleness and introspection, just not too much. Camilo is well documented electronically with releases on Telarc including Rhapsody in Blue (2006), Solo (2005), and Live at the Blue Note (2004). ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Michel Camilo: Spirit of the Moment

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Although he was born in the Dominican Republic and has won Latin Grammy awards, it would be inaccurate to lump pianist Michel Camilo into the catch-all category of Latin jazz. Sure, his roots are in Latin music and he imbues much of his playing with Afro-Caribbean beats, but he's best described as a jazz artist. Period. And, as his eclectic Spirit of the Moment shows, he can play just about any kind of jazz as well as anyone out there. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Michel Camilo & Tomatito: Spain Again

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Almost seven years have passed since Michel Camilo and Tomatito came together to record the multi-award-winning album Spain (Verve, 2000). That recording placed these outstanding musicians in the rarefied company of those who have successfully joined piano and guitar in a duo context and produced music of rare beauty: Bill Evans and Jim Hall in the world of jazz, Horacio Salgan and Ubaldo de Lio in the world of tango, and more recently, Pamela and Robert Trent in the classical ...

NEW YORK BEAT

Michel Camilo on a Blue Note Tour

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Well over 16 years ago I reviewed a young pianist from the Dominican Republic unknown to New York audiences. He was in an all-star concert at Town Hall and from the downbeat of the first selection I knew I was in for something special. By playing clever rhythm figures in unison with his bassist and drummer (Joel Rosenblatt) and constantly changing time signatures with staccato precision, Michel Camilo instantly transformed the traditional jazz trio spectrum into something much larger. He ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Michel Camilo: Rhapsody in Blue

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The crystal clear articulation with which Michel Camilo interprets “Rhapsody in Blue comes naturally. He was a child prodigy, after all, who joined the National Symphony of the Dominican Republic at age sixteen. Here, with the 95-piece Barcelona Symphony Orchestra, he resurrects George Gershwin's landmark composition with its jazz inflection and significant orchestral jazz textures. Camilo's grand piano weaves a silver thread through the piece, summoning up the deep feeling that comes ingrained in the composition. Without those emotional overtones, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Michel Camilo: Rhapsody in Blue

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As we settle into the new century, Gunther Schuller's Third Stream concept remains alive and well. Another example of this jazz/classical crossover is Rhapsody in Blue, where Michel Camilo plays “classical" George Gershwin with the Barcelona Symphony. It's a terrific CD, but is it jazz?

You bet. For one thing, Gershwin was basically a jazz guy, responsible for any number of enduring standards, and the jazzy elements of his writing are inescapable. For another, although Camilo was “playing the ink" ...



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