Anyone who has every witnessed the torrential solo performances of Dominican Republic piano maestro Michel Camilo might assume there wouldn’t be much room on stage for an equal partner, but his partnership with flamenco guitarist Tomatito has been compatibly maturing for almost 20 years. On their third album, they wind discreetly around each other on romantic themes such as the octave-pinging Agua y Vinho, and dance gracefully together on willowy Spanish love songs.
This third installment comes 10 years after the success of Spain Again (2006) and completes the trilogy of this magical duo, which pioneered the union of a Piano and a Flamenco guitar.
Michel Camilo is a very powerful Latin jazz pianist who is quite capable of playing several rhythms at once. He emulates an orchestra even when playing solo, so it is not surprising that this outing with 21 other musicians in an impressive all-star band is intense and passionate. Camilo performs ten of his originals on this date including the blues "One More Once," an atmospheric "Dreamlight," "Caribe," "Just Kidding" and his "hit" "Why Not."
Pianist Michel Camilo made his recording debut as a leader with this session for the Japanese King label. Camilo was anxious to show everything, and did so on such cuts as "Thinking Of You" and the title track. He ripped through phrases, added powerhouse chords and rippling lines, switched tempos and meters, and moved from a hard bop feel to an Afro-Latin groove in the middle of a piece. His intensity and energy were impressive, but at times he tried too much and stumbled getting back to the melody…It wasn't an unflawed debut, but Camilo showed that he would be a pianist to be reckoned with down the line.
"Spain Again" reunites Spanish flamenco guitarist Tomatito with American jazz pianist Michel Camilo. Camilo is a classically trained prodigy whose influences range from Art Tatum to Keith Jarrett, while Tomatito reigns as one of his country's brightest stars, citing Paco De Lucia as one of his key inspirations. The success of this collaboration does not lie in the differences between their musical heritages, but rather in the common ground these two masters forge within the parameters of this recording.
Depending on what track you’re listening to, “Spirit of the Moment” (Telarc) is presenting one of three big ideas. There’s Latin jazz as we know it. There’s jazz as we know it that is unmistakably informed by the cultural backgrounds of his new trio: a Dominican pianist (Michel Camilo), a Cuban bassist (Charles Flores) and a Cuban drummer (Dafnis Prieto). And there is the contemplative, rubato ballad, which reflects no particular identity or place. Each idea could generate a whole album, and it would be good to hear this fleet band make any of those records.
"On the Other Hand" finds pianist Michel Camilo straying from his normal piano trio format to command a larger ensemble with horns and percussion. This expansion is continued further with the addition of a guest vocalist on one track ("Forbidden Fruit"). His stunning piano chops, however, are in fine form as usual, as are his masterful composing and arranging skills. With this release, his fifth as a leader, Camilo is in his prime.