"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 Camilo, from the liner notes
Hailed by jazz and classical connoisseurs alike, piano virtuoso Michel Camilo is also one of the most prominent figures in Latin jazz. In a recording career that spans nearly two decades, Live at the Blue Note is Camilo’s first live album and his first recording with a Cuban rhythm section. Set for release on August 26, 2003, this two-CD set offers a mix of mostly Camilo compositions, played with gusto by bassist Charles Flores and Camilo’s longtime drummer Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez.
Recorded at the Blue Note on March 19-22, 2003, Camilo’s second Telarc disc includes a batch of new tunes that hadn’t been performed live until the week-long engagement began. “I write pretty nuanced charts,” the pianist/composer says. “We do extended versions of the songs. We get into it and let ourselves go. We want to get that energy out there.”
The results are stunning – impressively so in pieces such as "Cocowalk," the spirited opening track, and "“Why Not!," one of Camilo’s signature tunes. Song after song, Live at the Blue Note dazzles as sixteen Camilo originals join two well-chosen covers (Chuck Rio’s "Tequila," and a medley of "Happy Birthday" and Kenny Dorham’s "Blue Bossa"). The album glides between understated soulfulness ("Two of a Kind," "The Magic in You," "Twilight Glow" and "Silent Talk") and driving power ("Dichotomy," "This Way Out," "At Night" and "See You Later").
Boasting "lightning-quick virtuosity and deep-rooted soul" (NY Newsday), Dominican-born Michel Camilo is one of the most riveting performers in jazz today – as immortalized by his blazing performance in the film Calle 54. An innovator of the highest order, Camilo regards himself as a Renaissance man, and for good reason. Although a jazz player first and foremost, he’s clearly not afraid of developing a reputation as one who breaks the rules.
Camilo is equally renowned as a composer, and artists ranging from Dizzy Gillespie to The Manhattan Transfer have performed his works. His diverse resume includes performances with symphony orchestras, compositions for film, and collaborative projects with musicians like Paquito D’Rivera and pianists Katia and Marielle Labeque. Spain, Camilo's 2000 Verve release with flamenco guitarist Tomatito, won Best Latin Jazz Album in the first Latin Grammy Awards.
As Billboard wrote of Triangulo (CD-83549), his critically acclaimed 2002 Telarc debut: "Camilo’s pianism is remarkable, not only where technique is concerned, but moreover, for the range and beauty of his sound." In April 2003, Camilo was appointed Herb Alpert Visiting Professor at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Earlier this year, Triangulo, which featured Anthony Jackson on bass and Hernandez on drums, was nominated for Best Jazz Instrumental Album at the Grammy Awards and Best Latin Jazz Album at the Billboard Latin Music Awards.
Michel Camilo’s Live at the Blue Note is another superb display from a remarkable artist at the peak of his powers.
Michel Camilo’s Live at the Blue Note (2CD-83574) is due at retail on August 26, 2003.