Michel Camilo Trio, The Blue Note: 2006

Michel Camilo Trio


The Blue Note, April 25, 2006:


       Kathy and I travel into Manhattan for opening night of The Michel Camilo Trio, at The Blue Note. We bring my sister Jessica, to see Michel, for the very first time. I see Charles before the show and we embrace a big hello. Soon our dear friend Chris La Rosa arrives and we hug warmly, as we are so truly glad to see him again. We all go inside as the doors open at 6:00 P.M. and sit at table 4. I am on the press list+1 tonight, thanks again to The Blue Note publicist, Carolyn McClair. We enjoy dinner very soon and everyone’s food is delicious. We are served tonight by Tyrah, who is fabulous. As show time approaches, I can’t help but notice that this is the largest crowd I have ever seen for Michel, at the club. The place is packed to the rafters. The mood is electrified as everyone is anticipating a tremendous show.


Charles Flores


Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro

       At 8:07 P.M., The Michel Camilo Trio takes the stage. Michel’s mystical musical sorcery commences with, “From Within.” The piano intro is elegant, inventive and rhythmically inspiring. Michel’s chord melodies are slow and gentle to start. Very soon percussive accents jump from Michel’s fiery hands. Dafnis Prieto joins in on drums and his playing is sharp and succinct. Charles Flores’ bass line leads in smoothly and blends immediately. The trio is extremely tight from the very first melodic passages. The musical posture changes to a distinctly Latin persuasion, as the percussive attributes are prominently emphasized. The feel is bouncy and exuberant as Michel’s piano solo builds to a dramatic crescendo. Charles plays a tasteful bass feature with Dafnis supporting fully on his drum kit. Dafnis is conspicuously energized, immediately.


Michel Camilo


Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro

       Michel Camilo thanks us all for our warm welcome and introduces the trio: Charles Flores on contrabass and Dafnis Prieto on drums and percussion. Michel elaborates on his playing with the great Dizzy Gillespie and introduces the second tune, “Birk’s Works.” The arrangement starts slow and emphatic with clear accents and great use of rests for space and dynamic emphasis. The music exudes dissonance, complemented by Dafnis’ excellent use of brushes. Charles’ bass resonates very prominently throughout this slow swing and tasteful refrain. The tempo picks up as Michel’s piano is featured. The trio transitions effortlessly through an enticing dynamic change. Charles provides the mucilage that cradles their rhythmic cohesion. Charles’ bass solo is exquisite, while Dafnis’ drum feature is creative and musically playful. The musical imagery is pleasantly restrained, subtly sexy and sublime. The music unfolds through slow and sultry, to bright and whimsical and finally driving and powerful.   

       “Tequila” is always a tremendous crowd pleaser. The familiar melodic structure is turned around, Michel style, to everyone’s tremendous pleasure. A dissonant and syncopated melodic slant is sited over this enjoyable Latin pop classic. The trio executes dramatic rests, dynamic emphasis and succinct accents to thoroughly spice up the arrangement. The musical delivery is sparse and restrained and then developed with the seasoned use of off-timing accents, as everyone joins in on the vocal refrain, ‘tequila.’ Dafnis is extremely inventive, creative and mischievous with his percussive prancing. Michel and Dafnis are totally in synch as they toy in this musical cat and mouse game. As Michel solos, the trio surges with musical power and prowess.


Dafnis Prieto


Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro

      “At Night” begins with Michel’s elegant piano intro. The tempo soon intensifies into a double-time musical whirlwind. The piano intro soars and the execution is beyond compare. Michel’s musical performance genius is clearly an understatement here. His hands blur in their blistering execution. The trio joins in hot and ferocious. There is a cut-time passage that has an unusual double-time feel simmering underneath. The music moves to a sudden dynamic stop and then changes to bright, snappy and very upbeat. The trio is very tight and the music is especially hot, hot, hot! Michel executes an incredible piano solo, as he literally attacks the keys. This intense percussive attack sizzles through Michel’s incessant energy and enthusiasm.


Michel Camilo


Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro

       “Pra Voce” is imposing, passionate, and is a particularly tight arrangement. There is an extremely percussive attack with tremendous dynamic control. The delivery is at first quiet and then big, loud and exacting. The next composition, “Twilight Glow,” is subdued, sensuous, dreamy and very enchanting. Charles is featured on a melodic and hypnotic leading bass line. He demonstrates an incredibly delicate touch on the high notes of the fret board. What poignant musical imagery! Charles performs flourishes and crescendos that are totally captivating and delightful.

       “Night in Tunisia” rounds out this awesome first set. This incredible arrangement features Michel’s piano in a creatively clever answer/response passage with Dafnis on drums. Michel’s right hand percussive rolls are incredible to behold. His hands are a total blur on the keyboard. The right hand strikes so amazingly, you can virtually feel the wind from the physical impact of his creative emotional outbursts.


a total blur...


Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro

       Michel, please don’t hurt yourself, really! This song embodies furious hand rolls, dramatic stops and incredible slapping accents. Dafnis’ drum solo is incredible. He is so amazingly polyrhythmic and succinctly percussive. This brilliant performance is incredibly enjoyable to watch and be totally amazed.

     The crowd stands and cheers the trio’s incredible performance genius. We are all yelling, a very mutually spontaneous outburst of genuine support and admiration, for an amazing set of music.



Dafnis Prieto & Charles Flores


Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro

Second Set


        “Cocowalk” starts off the second set. The music is bright, happy and very uplifting. Michel’s piano solo is imaginative and thrilling. The lively sound makes you wanna’ get up and shout! Charles bass line walks along in a contented hummm. Dafnis’ playing is very clear, articulate and his chops are incredible. “Mongo’s Blues” is quiet, subdued and surreal. The musical mood is mystical, ethereal and wistful. The imagery is celestial with subtle dissonance. The melodic development builds to an intense crescendo as the melodic complexity excites. There is a clever dynamic change to an accentuated ‘walk’ as Dafnis’ verbal expression says it all, “yeah.” The trio is in a total groove. What incredible dynamic touch and splendid melodic development.

       The piano intro is lightly fluttering like a butterfly on “La Comparsa.” The arrangement has a more pronounced Latin feel. A fleeting dissonance permeates the exuberant fun and creativity. The trio is thoroughly enjoying themselves. The arrangement moves through a happy Latin spirited bounce, to a more provocative, but restrained and syncopated enigmatic melody. The subtle but crisp accents are peppered with dissonance. Dafnis smiles with pure joy. Charles facial expressions are intriguing and very expressive. His note choices are very well conceived and controlled, and reach both high and low extremes with ease. Michel’s piano intro is hushed, reflective and distinguished on, “Afterthought.” The melodic development becomes a pulsating inflection that remains veiled, regal and somber. Dafnis demonstrates superior brush work with a wide dynamic breadth. Charles featured bass solo is very expressive while Dafnis accompanies delicately and resolutely. This is an excellent ensemble delivery.


Michel Camilo


Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro

       “See You Later” is sharp and succinct with energetic percussive accents. The polyrhythmic counterpoint intensity features an answer/response passage between Michel and Dafnis, with Charles mediating the musical middle. This tune is smokin’. Dafnis plays an incredible solo and Michel is out-of-this-world. “Remembrance” is tranquil, somber and delicate. The musical mood is reverent and spiritual. What a controlled and contrastingly reticent touch. The music builds to a percussive, persuasive punch. Charles’ bass soon dominates the melodic presentation with long, ‘fat’ sustain notes. Michel builds dynamically to an emphatic and impassioned musical expression.


Michel Camilo


Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro

       “Crossroads” is wild, fast and furious. This is an intense bebop arrangement. Charles’ bass is walking furiously. The trio is really cruising. Dafnis and Charles carry on, walking proud and tall. Dafnis drum solo is totally amazing; building faster and faster and more creatively complex. He plays a cut-time change passage that is quite extraordinary. Dafnis has really matured, in just one year, into an integral part of The Michel Camilo Trio. He is spectacular. What chops and creative imagination.

       The Michel Camilo trio finishes up with, “On Fire.”  Michel plays a lengthy, majestic and eloquent piano intro. Then the trio kicks into an intensely syncopated and staccato musical hurricane that builds the sound to an amazing crescendo. The trio is on fire! Charles’ bass solo is a polyrhythmic, articulate, personal musical expression. Michel executes grandiose two-hand chords with amazing percussive intensity. Michel and Dafnis tangle in an incredible answer/response passage that amazes everyone. Dafnis plays the most intensely creative drum solo of the night and spontaneously carves out a superior cut-time improvisation that is pure performance genius. What an amazing solo!

       The Michel Camilo Trio puts on an incredible show tonight. Although I have seen Michel perform many times, he always finds an indisputable way to surpass anything previously. Charles caresses his bass to creatively carve this musical cake into unselfish slices of performance brilliance. Dafnis Prieto has developed great confidence and spontaneous magnetism in many ways. Michel inspires Dafnis to play incredibly, and brings out the creative performance genius that he truly is.

       The audience stands and cheers as the trio bows and leaves the stage. Thanks again Michel, for another heavenly musical experience.

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