Music Reviews

Michel Camilo



The citing of influences can be a tricky thing. If, as a writer, I cite Toni Morrison, Milan Kundera, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Harlan Ellison, and, say, Vladimir Nabokov as my major influences, does that mean my music criticism is Nobel worthy? Exactly. So, what am I to expect when Dominican-born pianist, Michel Camilo, claims such jazz legends as Erroll Garner, McCoy Tyner, Chick Corea, and Keith Jarrett to be his major influences? Well, if influence somehow equates to talent, a much better album than Triangulo.

Yes, it cannot be denied that Camilo knows his way around the keys, and Triangulo does have its moments (“Just Like You” is a sweet ballad, and they do swing on “Mr. C.I.”); but, overall, the album does not call anything like “legendary” to mind. Camilo’s playing simply is not idiosyncratic enough to make him all that unique. Therefore, the aforementioned moments of this trio album are not brought about by Camilo. That honor goes directly to drummer Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez. His use of the standard drum kit along with Latin percussion provides a fresh, driving punch to an otherwise flat bag. His subtle, galloping work on “La Comparsa,” for example, is truly brilliant. He radiates throughout the disc while one’s left wondering why bassist Anthony Jackson’s name even appears on the cover (since his playing is barely existent) and why Camilo’s the headliner on the disc. Hernandez is clearly the star of this session.

Telarc Records: • Michel Camilo:

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