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Michel Camilo: Essence

Read "Essence" reviewed by Chris Mosey

Michel Camilo is a virtuoso pianist who mixes jazz, Latin and classical. Playing as part of a trio, he is famous for hitting the listener with a constant barrage of technique as dazzling as it is tiring. Fortunately, the big band format of Essence puts the lid on such displays. The album forms a retrospective on Camilo's career. It opens with “And Sammy Walked In" from the maestro's 1989 album On Fire. It is dedicated to Sammy ...

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Michel Camilo: Essence

Read "Essence" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

In numerology, the number 25 is connected to wisdom and an air of curiosity. Both traits, not surprisingly, speak directly to this pianist at the moment he delivers a dynamic big band album--his 25th release to date--a full quarter century after his first leader effort to explore this format. Essence's playlist spans decades, with all new Michael Philip Mossman arrangements on Camilo classics from as far back as his debut, Why Not? (Evidence, 1985); the band is ...

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Michel Camilo: Live In London

Read "Live In London" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

While he may be best known for fronting dynamic trios, piano titan Michel Camilo does just fine by himself. There's tremendous propulsion, clarity, and strength in play when Camilo takes to the bench, and there's truly no place better to hear that than in a solo setting. Camilo has explored this format on record before--first on Solo (Telarc, 2005), later on What's Up? (Okeh, 2013)--but those efforts spoke to his work in the studio. Live In London ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Tribute to Ernesto Lecuona: Michel Camilo, Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Chucho Valdés

Read "Tribute to Ernesto Lecuona: Michel Camilo, Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Chucho Valdés" reviewed by Harry S. Pariser

Tribute to Ernesto Lecuona: Michel Camilo, Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Chucho Valdés Symphony Hall San Francisco, California June 21, 2015 Individuals hearing of a tribute concert to be held commemorating the work of legendary musician Ernesto Lecuona might be forgiven for furrowing their brows. For Lecuona--despite his status as an extraordinary pianist, composer and bandleader--is known to but a relative few. One reason for his lack of notoriety is that he came from a different era: ...

CATCHING UP WITH

Michel Camilo: From Dominica to Spain and Back Again

Read "Michel Camilo: From Dominica to Spain and Back Again" reviewed by Derrick A. Smith

This interview was first published at All About Jazz in July 2000. After performing more than 40 concerts together, longtime friends Michel Camilo and Tomatito recorded Spain, an album that fuses their respective backgrounds of Latin Jazz and flamenco. Spain was released in the country of its title in 1999 to wide critical acclaim and strong sales. At its best, the disc incorporates both broad styles into a third stream that belongs solely to Camilo/Tomatito. Their backgrounds provide ...

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Michel Camilo: What's Up

Read "What's Up" reviewed by Larry Taylor

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 ...

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Michel Camilo: Mano A Mano

Read "Mano A Mano" reviewed by Larry Taylor

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 ...

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Michel Camilo: Spirit of the Moment

Read "Spirit of the Moment" reviewed by C. Michael Bailey

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). ...

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Michel Camilo: Spirit of the Moment

Read "Spirit of the Moment" reviewed by Joel Roberts

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. ...

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Michel Camilo & Tomatito: Spain Again

Read "Spain Again" reviewed by Ian Patterson

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

Read "Michel Camilo on a Blue Note Tour" reviewed by Nick Catalano

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 ...

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Michel Camilo: Rhapsody in Blue

Read "Rhapsody in Blue" reviewed by Jim Santella

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, ...


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