Michel Camilo Trio: Spirit Of The Moment - The Blue Note: 2007

Michel Camilo Trio


The Blue Note, May 8, 2007:


       Kathy, Jessica and I travel to The Blue Note in Manhattan to see opening night of The Michel Camilo Trio. Tonight is the debut of new music from the just released CD: Spirit Of The Moment. We are so very excited to see our dear friends again. As we wait in front, Michel and Sandra greet us warmly and pose graciously for a photo.


Jessica, Sandra and Michel Camilo & Kathy


Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro. All rights reserved.

       Chris La Rosa arrives in the nick of time and we all embrace in warm friendship. We go inside, as the doors open, to sit at our table near Michel’s piano. I soon see our friends the McGinnis family: Michele, Chris and pianist son Christopher. Everyone is giddy with anticipation and nervous excitement. Lester Holt, from NBC, and his wife Carol join our table to our delight. We are served tonight by Amina who is gracious and attentive. I am on the press list+1 tonight thanks to Jonathan Kantor, the new publicist for The Blue Note. Our dinner tonight is fantastic, as usual, and the service is tremendous. The Blue Note is incredibly crowded tonight for Michel’s debut of Spirit Of The Moment.

        The Michel Camilo Trio begins just after 8:00 P.M. The crowd applauds and cheers enthusiastically as the trio takes the stage. The trio is: Michel Camilo on piano, Charles Flores on contra-bass and Dafnis Prieto on drums and percussion. The opening composition, “Just Now,” is the first song on the new CD. The piano intro is quietly restrained and tasteful. Every note and melodic passage is carefully and thoughtfully presented. Michel warms up his fingers with jazz improvisation touched with blues inflections. Michel playfully toys with the keyboard as he alludes to Ellington. Dafnis Prieto accompanies with a tastefully syncopated and delicately drawn drum dialog. The musical presentation is a walking groove, with a light marching touch that is bright and uplifting. Charles lays the foundation with a strong and sustained bass figure. The song continues with a bluesy feel that is highly percussive. Michel’s melodic hand rolls on the keyboard bring the audience to exuberant life.


Michel Camilo


Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro. All rights reserved.

       “My Secret Place” is the next composition. This is also from the new CD release. The musical atmosphere is somber and enchanting. Dafnis Prieto uses mallets to provide creative and dynamic cymbal effects and effortlessly switches to slow and dramatic brushwork. Charles is dominant on bass. The melodic development is stunningly soothing, serene and ethereal. Charles’ bass solo expresses superior melodic discovery as Michel and Dafnis play gently to support Charles. The music is reflective, with a delicately minor expression, which contrasts effectively with spectacular crescendos. This unmistakably demonstrates the trio’s superb dynamic range.

       In “Berdito,” Michel continues to unleash his fiery emotional expression with his astounding melodic scale runs. The rhythm starts as a very syncopated Latin feel that changes into an upbeat jazz swing. Michel explodes with spectacular hand rolls that blur with their exceptional execution, which is always a crowd pleaser. Wow! Michel’s energy is amazing. His unparalleled chops and illusionary hand rolls compel everyone to go wild! Michel ‘comps’ chords as Charles’ bass solo mesmerizes us all. Dafnis is extremely succinct on percussion. Dafnis performs a remarkable drum solo and then playfully exchanges spontaneous musical phrases in a spectacular answer/response passage with Michel on piano.

       “A Place In Time” is the next selection from the trio. The intro is sensuous and thoughtful, with wonderful brushwork and clever accents from Dafnis. Michel’s piano is elegantly weaved between Charles powerful bass lines. The music is hushed and reserved with great use of rests that demonstrate majestic repose and melodic respect. This mellifluous musical memory is carefully resolved with controlled crescendos that showcase a very delicate touch.

       “Repercussions” follows in a 7/4 time signature. The trio is smokin! Charles’ smile is infectious. The melodic development is masterfully creative. Michel executes remarkable piano hand percussion. Charles is equally percussive with his melodic attack on the bass. Charles is jumping as he strums with emphatic enthusiasm. Dafnis effortlessly inserts amazing accents as he rolls through his drum solo.


Charles Flores and Dafnis Prieto


Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro. All rights reserved.

       “At Night” is the next musical contribution. Michel performs a soothingly melodic piano intro. His creative piano invention weaves polyrhythmic patterns, as the musical emotion builds and builds. Charles' fingers dance over the fret board as he smiles and grimaces joyfully. The cut-time staccato passage showcases excellent percussive persuasion from Dafnis. The music exudes energy and magnetism as it is both fluid and fast. Dafnis utilizes a tiny inverted splash cymbal that is utterly delicious. The music seamlessly switches from a cut-time bluesy feel to a staccato dynamic outburst. Michel confidently executes frenzied melodic crescendos to the left of the keyboard, while effortlessly moving his left hand over the right hand to hit an accent note behind the melodic crescendo. YES!


Michel Camilo


Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro. All rights reserved.

       “Hurry Up And Wait” is hot and heavy. This composition features brilliant ensemble execution with creative stops for distinct musical contrast. The presentation is exacting and exciting. This song is in a 7/4 time signature. Michel executes blazing right hand percussive rolls accenting the ‘7’. Michel is jumping off the piano stool as he strikes the accents. The trio is amused and quite comfortable in 7/4 time. The song ends spectacularly as Dafnis amazes everyone with his incredible percussive prowess.

       The last music of the first set is a tribute to Michel’s mentor Dizzy Gillespie. The medley of Dizzy’s music features: “Con Alma,” “A Night In Tunisia” and “Manteca.” The piano intro is calm and reserved. Michel’s melodic crescendos feature his left hand going over his right hand to hit accents. The musical presentation is respectively restrained and quiet. Michel extends his melodic runs on piano to a bright ‘walk’. Excellent dynamic control is creatively utilized to emphasize a very special mood. The music presents mystery in quiet repose; with sustain chords that are quite provocative. Michel’s left shoulder dips with each left-hand accent. Michel transitions into “A Night In Tunisia” as the audience roars with enthusiastic applause. Charles is fierce in his bass attack. Dafnis is extremely succinct and demonstrates incredible percussive creativity on woodblock. The trio is humming in a hard swinging be-bop that displays creative, hypnotic musical allure and percussive wizardry. Michel is especially joyful as he is busting out all over with huge smiles and even throws his white towel in the air. Charles plays above the fret board as Dafnis is rebellious and explosive. The music is fiercely hot and super fast and then dynamically contrasted with a cut-time passage. Dafnis plays his tiny splash cymbal unbelievably. The trio’s dynamic control, from fiery hot to hushed silence, is a true credit to the genius performance level displayed here. As the set ends, the crowd stands and cheers to demonstrate their genuine appreciation for this dramatic and superlative performance.

       During the break we go to Michel’s dressing room to say hello…


Doug, Kim, Sandra, Vinnie, Michel, Chris, Jessica and Kathy


Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro. All rights reserved.


Sandra, Chris, Jessica, Michel and Kathy


Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro. All rights reserved.


Sandra, A.J. and Michel


Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro. All rights reserved.




       The second set begins with “Cocowalk.” The intro is regal, reverent and reserved, with a touch of dissonance. The musical expression emphasizes sustain, then rest, and then a very creative piano solo from Michel. The music elevates, as Charles remains low and lovely. The music remains lively, bright and syncopated. Dafnis is succinct as Charles’ smile is radiant. The music continues to build to snappy and cohesive and then smoke and fire. Michel performs amazing hand rolls!


Michel Camilo


Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro. All rights reserved.

       The title composition of the new CD, “Spirit Of The Moment,” is VERY impressive. The music starts quiet and succinct. Dafnis’ drum intro is a creative and pulsating persuasion that is warm, inventive and embracing. The drums are restrained, tasteful and sumptuous, with some delicately sited rests. Charles is quite mystifying in his musical interpretation. Dafnis’ drum feature is purposely sparse, creative and exacting.

       “Birk’s Works,” a Dizzy Gillespie composition, follows. Michel executes grandiose full chords in a pleasurable, jazzy slow swing. The trio utilizes excellent use of rests and space to showcase their exquisite dynamic control. Charles takes an impressive solo. Dafnis’ drum solo is very unusual and features sublime brushwork.

       “Twilight Glow” is mysterious, melancholy and reverent. The musical presentation is sultry, suggestive, sexy and majestic. Charles’ bass feature is extremely emotional and dramatically expressive. “Remembrance” is impassioned, elegant and sentimental. The arrangement is a soothing serenade of emotion. This is a moving musical masterpiece.

       “See You Later” is very upbeat, lively and inspirational. The musical groove is powerful and focused, as the accents are concise and commanding. We all gyrate with this very irresistible musical motivation. Michel’s hands are a total blur!!!

       The encore composition is a slow and rolling arrangement in a 10/8 time signature. Dafnis is very restrained on light-touch Rute brushes. What an incredibly delicate stroke. The arrangement is very ethereal, with excellent use of rests and peacefully hushed.


Michel Camilo and Dafnis Prieto


Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro. All rights reserved.

       The Michel Camilo Trio debuts Spirit Of The Moment and has us all in awe. The new music from Michel is incredible! These talented musicians played their hearts out tonight. Michel embodies creative genius and exuberant, unyielding, imaginative energy. Charles Flores dazzles with distinctive and dynamic musical magic. Dafnis Prieto achieves an exceptionally inventive and oftentimes playfully creative percussive performance. Spirit Of The Moment continues Michel Camilo’s overwhelming dominance of totally unparalleled and creative Latin jazz composition. His every performance leaves us all quite breathless!!


Chris, Charles and A.J.


Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro. All rights reserved.

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