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Rhapsody In Blue

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Album Review

The prospect of Michel Camilo playing Gershwin's concert music will probably come as a bolt from the blue to the jazz crowd, but to classical fans, it may come with a yawn. With all of those "Rhapsodies in Blue" and "Concertos in F" crowding the catalogs, do the shrinking shelves of classical record sections really need another? Put it another way, is this one different and illuminating enough to justify the extra inches of shelf space? Um — no and no. Without a doubt, Camilo has a point to prove, and a track record behind it; among his classical accomplishments is a worthy Prokofiev-in-the- Caribbean piano concerto of his own composition (Decca). Yet from the highly mannered clarinet introduction onward, Rhapsody in Blue lurches from episode to episode, threatening to justify the original pedantic criticisms that the piece doesn't hang together well. Camilo is adrift in rubato and doesn't go anywhere. The cadenza is stop-and-start, with some repeated passages gratuitously swung or not at all; it makes no sense at all in this choppy conception. Though in the liner notes Camilo claims he hears the piece more in terms of the jazz and ragtime of the period than in terms of Liszt, far more often than not, effusive Liszt at his most wayward seems to come out on top. "Concerto in F" is somewhat better yet maddeningly uneven, with passages of straight-ahead vitality interspersed with awkward, dragging tempo fluctuations in the first movement; a tolerably meandering slow movement; and a surprisingly genteel third movement, given Camilo's fondness for pulling out the percussive technical stops in jazz. Conductor Ernest Martinez Izquierdo and the passable Barcelona Symphony Orchestra also indulge in questionably placed rubatos of their own throughout both pieces; they're not quite in tune with the Gershwin idiom either. Camilo rounds out the disc with a slow, very freely-phrased rendition of Gershwin's second piano prelude — this time with a welcome, elegant improvised interpolation right in the center. ~ Richard S. Ginell, Rovi

Biography

Born: 04 April 1954 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

An exciting and high-powered virtuoso pianist, Michel Camilo came from a very musical family (all nine of his uncles were musicians). Originally playing accordion, he switched to piano when he was 16. After moving to New York in 1979, his song "Why Not?" became a hit for the Manhattan Transfer and caught on as a standard, and "Caribe" entered the repertoire of Dizzy Gillespie. Camilo, who worked with Paquito d'Rivera's band for three years (cutting an album with "Why Not?" as the title cut), recorded...
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Rhapsody In Blue, Michel Camilo
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