Michel Camilo – piano
Charles Flores – bass
Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez – drums
The recording was made live at the Blue Note Jazz Club in New
York in March of 2003.
The trio has unbounding energy, Camilo hails
from the Dominican Republic and the other two are from Cuba.
Together they reflect all that is jazz in the USA plus everything
that is Latin from the Caribbean. The instrumental virtuosity
of all three is amazing and the audience reaction one of excitement
In the sleeve notes Michel Camilo says "There’s
a very high level of communication, and at the same time, a
very high level of risk in all the improvisational moments.
And there’s always that question of ‘How are we going to get
out of this one?’ There are really moments like that in there,
and I’m so glad they were captured for posterity."
Michel has been recording for about 20 years
now, but this is his first live recording and his first with
his current Cuban bass player and drummer. Although Hernandez
been with him for some time, Flores had only joined some four
months before this recording.
Quite a lot of the material is new to the group
and most of it original from the pen of Camilo. He is not shy
of putting in a few standards like a new version of ‘Tequila’
and Kenny Dorham’s ‘Blue Bossa’.
The album gets off to a cracking start with
Cocowalk, which is an all action work out for the whole band.
Camilo is well known as a composer and many
other artists use his compositions, Dizzy Gillespie, Paquito
D’Rivera and Manhattan Transfer have all featured his works.
A month after this recording Camilo was appointed
Herb Alpert Visiting Professor at Berklee College of Music in
Boston and on the basis of this album alone he richly deserves
Michel is classically trained, which accounts
for his magnificent keyboard skills. He studied for 13 years
at the National Conservatory in Santo Domingo, before moving
to New York to study at Mannes and Juilliard School School of
Music. He is also in demand as both Conductor and Pianist in
the classical world.
The music (all 2 hours, 15minutes of it) is
intense and at the same time refreshing, Blue Bossa is taken
at a faster than usual tempo, as a piano solo, where he demonstrates
phenomenal technique and invention.
Disc One is completed by This Way Out which
starts with drummer/percussionist Horacio "EL Negro"
Hernandez demonstrating his extraordinary skills before he is
joined by the other members of the trio on a number that really
cooks along from start to finish. Charles Flores amply demonstrates
the reason for his inclusion in the band with an excellent up-tempo
The Second Record starts right into where the
first one left off with a calypso called On the Other Hand,
as you would expect two Cubans and a man from the Dominican
republic know all about these kind of rhythms. This is however
an essentially jazz performance and a couple of quotes from
‘Well You Needn’t remind us of that should we forget it!
The playing of Michel Camilo is probably even
more complicated than that of McCoy Tyner, but I find him much
the most interesting of the two to listen to, his compositions
have melodic as well as rhythmic content and his improvisations
however advanced seem to me to have more structure. His technique
is faultless and he has that wonderful touch on the instrument
that you only hear from the best. At Night is a particularly
good track which starts with Camilo in solo mood and then moves
into a bossa tempo and then on to a funky rock. The solo piano
introductions were also a feature of Errol Garners playing,
but the general styles of the two pianists are a long way apart.
See you Later was commissioned by and first performed at the
2002 San Francisco Jazz festival.
I was not familiar with the playing of Michel
Camilo before hearing this record and I intend to play it frequently
over the next few months, to try to get more inside it. There
is no doubt in my mind already, he is a great jazz talent and
as often happens, the live performance is ideal to hear most
jazz performers at their best. The recording quality is first