Michel Camilo Trio at The Verizon Music Festival

Featuring: Anthony Jackson & Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez

Michel Camilo Trio

 

Verizon Music Festival, September 21, 2002:

 

       At the urging of Chris La Rosa, I drive into Manhattan to see a Michel Camilo concert at Battery Park. I have reservations about driving all the way to the tip of Manhattan, so I park in front of my office on Houston Street. I got a nice parking spot, no hassle or cost. I hop on the Number 1 subway downtown to South Ferry. It has only just re-opened, to South Ferry, just a few days ago. How ironic I should have to use it so quickly. I walk to Battery Park and come upon the location for the concert, The Verizon Music Festival. I get toward the front of the audience, about three rows from the stage. I relax in the bright midday sun. The show starts at noon with Michel Camilo slated for a one o’clock performance. The crowd is jovial and all the Jazz fans around me are super friendly. Many of the patrons are Verizon employees and they are very nice indeed.

       The Michel Camilo Trio is greeted with enthusiastic applause and everyone gets up to cheer Michel Camilo on. We are all standing and yelling to welcome Michel Camilo, Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez and Anthony Jackson to The Verizon Music Festival.


    

Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro

       Michel Camilo starts with a solo piano intro to his up-tempo arrangement, “Tropical Breeze,” which is off his tremendous 1993 CD release, Rendezvous.  Wow, Michel is all over the keyboard. His hands quickly blur with the wildly percussive and melodic performance genius he possesses.


    

Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro

       The second song exhibits a slower Latin tempo and is soothingly melodic in nature. Anthony Jackson’s 6-string Contrabass is full and solid, providing a wall of bottom notes that are hypnotic as they roll off his nimble fingers so naturally.


    

Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro

       The drums provide a jazz rhythm that glides along so steadily and easily, providing Michel with the pristine ease, with which he may paint his creative picture. The ensuing piano melody is light and bouncy and full of melodic character.

       Song number three is off the latest spectacular CD release, Triangulo. The song is, “Mr. C.I.” a Chano Dominquez composition. Michel starts off with a lengthy and slow piano introduction. He easily develops dramatically dissonant chord structures with his left hand while simultaneously creating a mysterious melodic mood with his complex right hand polyrhythmic note configurations. The song breaks out to a hot, hot, feverish Latin tempo with the drums accompanying syncopated snare rolls evolving to wild and emotional, but very controlled, rhythmic percussive mastery, on the trap set, by the great Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez. There is an amazing drum solo to put the sweetest icing on this musical layer cake.


    

Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro

       Song number four is very slow and moody and dramatically impressive in it’s somber musical depth. This beautiful musical arrangement is called, “Remembrance,” off the Rendezvous CD.  This is one of my all time favorite Michel Camilo compositions. The music is slow and elegant, thoughtful and endearing, melancholy and full of musical stature. Wow, this musical composition is pure heaven!! This music evokes not only deep feelings of emotion, but genuinely brings a tear to my eye.

       Song five, “Piece of Cake,” is the lead off tune from the current CD, Triangulo. The arrangement is quiet, demure, charming and creative. Michel systematically returns to the very traditional Latin chord structure with that familiar Latin tempo to bring it all back home. His virtuoso percussive melodic attack, complimented with challenging chord melodies, is accentuated with lightning fast right hand arpeggios for added musical intrigue. The drums remain constantly creative in nature, with the cowbell drone acting as a constant rhythmic centerpiece, holding it all together. Between sharp articulate accents and wild percussive flourishes,“El Negro” builds to an amazing percussive crescendo!!  Excellent rhythmic and melodic dynamic extremes, brings the mood high and then quiet and low, with the utmost control. The drums and piano do an answer and response passage that is pure genius!


    

Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro

       Song six, “Descarga For Tito,” was written for and dedicated to Tito Puente. It is lively and full of energy, as was Tito. Highly percussive, it features complex wood block focused rhythmic accents that clearly illustrate Horacio Hernandez’s virtuosity. The song breaks out to feature amazingly interactive polyrhythmic playing between piano and drums. Cut-time passages are cleverly injected to return to and feature Tito Puente’s signature sound, complimented by amazing piano solo passages from Michel Camilo.  Complex chord melodies and amazing percussive attack with the right hand create a melodic and percussive passage that builds to a musical exclamation mark!! Increasingly challenging drum polyrhythms, accompanied with piano soloing, create an amazing musical display. Then repeated cut-time passages back to Tito’s sound, again and again, are truly incredible and inspirational.

       The Michel Camilo Trio, with the genius musicianship of Anthony Jackson and Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez, puts on an incredible show here today! The crowd is wowed an in awe. I am out of breath and blown away once again.


    

Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro

       I get a chance to again meet Michel and Sandra, and they are both, loving, kind and embraceable human beings. It is so refreshing to meet such friendly, gentle and all around, great people. Michel takes the time to greet his fans and sign CDs for everyone who wants to say a kind hello.


    

Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro

        I give Chris La Rosa the pictures from the B.B. King Blues Club gig. He is thankful and overjoyed. I hope we can remain friends and keep in contact in the foreseeable future. I meet and chat with some other close friends of Michel, Sandra and Chris and they are all gracious and warm. I meet the great “El Negro” and he too, is amazingly personable and friendly. What a great experience!!


    

Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro

       Yes, Yes, Yes!!!!!  


    

Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro

 

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A.J. Alfaro

and.the.beat.goes.on@worldnet.att.net