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Michel Camilo: Spirit of the Moment

C. Michael Bailey By

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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).

Camilo continues his trio line of thinking with The Spirit of the Moment where he leads a superb trio consisting of Charles Flores on bass and Zoho Music mainstay Dafnis Prieto on drums. It is immediately apparent from the beginning of "Just Now, the disc's opening cut, that Camilo is firmly in control of a powerful format, guiding it expertly through the waters of the Caribbean into the Gulf of Mexico and beyond.

If the devil is in the details, then so is the good stuff. Camilo opens Moment with the original "Just Now. Flores introduces the piece with a short, funk-laden grove that is joined by an intricate island drumbeat from Prieto. Against this backdrop, Camilo plays the blues. Yes, the blues...the greasy chicken shack variety soul jazz of Lee Morgan's "Cornbread. "My Secret Place casts Flores playing arco against cymbal crescendos, allowing Camilo to be his most lyrical. But Camilo has no pastels in his color scheme; they are solid primaries and secondaries.

"Spirit of the Moment picks up where "Just Now left off, except the cloth woven by Camilo is much more complex. After a challenging introduction, Camilo and Prieto spar for a chorus before being joined by Flores for another Latin-Islands jaunt. Camilo's soloing is taut and robust, illuminating the pianist's command of the trio format. Flores turns in a straight-ahead bass solo that never veers off the radar of musical pragmatism. His style is more full bodied than the late Gene Harris, yet the two have much in common in the force with which they play.

"Repercussions is another blues (one certainly of the 21st Century) that displays again an intricate simpatico among the players. Not an Evans-LaFaro-Motian empathy, but a swinging cooperative where each member understands the other perfectly. This cooperation is extended to the standards "Nefertiti, "Nardis, and a weirdly contrapuntal "Giant Steps. The latter Coltrane piece shows Camilo perfectly capable of Postmodern deconstruction of a classic piece of music, making it new.


Track Listing: Just Now, My Secret Place, Spirit of the Moment, Repercussions, Nefertiti, Nardis, Trilogy, Giant Steps, Place in Time, Hurry Up and Wait, Liquid Crystal, Solar (Explorations).

Personnel: Michel Camilo: piano; Charles Flores: bass; Dafnis Prieto: drums.

Title: Spirit Of The Moment | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Telarc Records

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