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 being Solo (Telarc, 2005). Over the years, Camilo has recorded in most contexts: duets, trios, big bands. Solo, ...read more
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 enhanced rhythmic, melodic and harmonic qualities. Rounding out the trio is Charles Flores, a major contributor on bass.read more
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).
Camilo continues his trio line of thinking with The Spirit of the Moment where he leads a superb trio consisting ...read more
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. Camilo divides the album into three distinct sections, each consisting of four tunes. The opening section features ...read more
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 world. It is not an especially long list. The formula that worked so well seven years ago, a blend of ...read more
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 could fill large concert halls with epic sound rivaling that of a big band. His dynamic latin compositions stunned audiences ...read more
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, the piece would not have had such an impact on us during the Jazz Age.
Written just one year after ...read more