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Album Review

Michel Camilo has excelled in every project he has conceived, ranging from solo piano, small groups, big band, and working with a symphony orchestra. For this session, he returns to a trio setting with the infectious Puerto Rican percussionist Giovanni Hidalgo and bassist Charles Flores. Opening the disc is "Yes," the pianist's reworking of the familiar "Indiana" chord changes, recast as a lively Latin jazz original. The brilliant improvised introduction is a sensational duo performance by the leader and the conga player, setting up their terrific flights as the theme is revealed, with Flores providing an inventive undercurrent. Camilo's recasting of Lee Morgan's "The Sidewinder" keeps its funky edge with Hidalgo's capable percussion providing a hip flavor. John Coltrane's "Naima" is often played so seriously that no one seems to think of taking this lovely ballad in another direction. Camilo initially stays the course, though bursts free as he works into his inventive improvisation, while Hidalgo and Flores are anything but sedate with their formidable accompaniment. Camilo's interpretation of "Alfonsina y el Mar" is a moving performance of the Argentine ballad, with his shimmering piano conveying its emotion as Hidalgo and Flores provide a subtle background. There are several additional Camilo pieces of note, especially the lush ballads "You and Me" and "About You," the latter an elegant solo piano performance that wraps this delightful CD.

Mano a Mano, Marcos Bárcena
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