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What's Up?

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Album Review

Though he has recorded in many different contexts before, from duets to trios to big bands, Michel Camilo has released only one solo piano outing in his long career up to now, 2005's Solo, which revealed in intimate detail his tactile, technical facility. What's Up? is a few steps down the road. Comprised of seven originals and four covers, this date showcases the composer and pianist's love of harmony, texture, color, and rhythmic invention in performing solo jazz piano. Camilo is a wily and rangy player; he embraces the jazz piano tradition throughout this date, and extends it with Latin and classical music He opens with boogie and stride in the title cut; it's punchy, knotty, joyous, and swinging — a fine ride through Camilo's blues imagination. Following this energetic opener is the moodier "A Place in Time," with its classical nocturne feel that explores varied hues and timbres inside a minor-key arrangement. Given its ethereality and shimmering nuance, it's a fine contrast to the opener. Camilo's love of rhythms is evident in his sprightly reading of Paul Desmond's "Take Five" and his own charging Latin powerhouse "Paprika," with its wide harmonic exploration in the right-hand chord voicings and his rumbling left hand that shifts accents every chorus. His version of "Love for Sale" is playful, elegant, and canny in its deep inquiry into the melody's possibilities for extrapolation — his solo winds it out entirely without losing its essence. His reading of Compay Segundo's "Chan Chan" is rife with Afro-Cuban rhythmic accents even as it exposes both blues and son. "On Fire" is an exercise in pure technical mastery yet despite its intense right-hand arpeggios and ostinatos, its intricate lyric statement remains amid athletic rhumba, mambo, and salsa rhythms. In his closing ballad "At Dawn," one can hear traces of both Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett, as space, and lyricism — both direct and implied — send the recording off with an elegant whisper. What's Up? is a commanding performance by a truly masterful, wildly creative jazz pianist and composer.

Customer Reviews

Dynamics and Rhythm Astounding

I especially enjoyed "A Place in Time", "Sandra's Serenade", "At Dawn"

In Michel Camilo's own words … "I worked much more intensely in the touch, of each note, and how to produce the sound. Sometimes a very pleasant sound, the most tender sound you ever heard. Remember the piano is keys and hammers so also it is always a challenge for a pianist how to play legato, and play like you were a horn player, and express a melody, or like a singer. There are moments in this album where I am literally playing not down, but up, and literally like feather weight on the keys. And then of course there is the other moments where the percussionist in me comes out."

Biography

Born: April 4, 1954 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

An exciting and high-powered virtuoso pianist, Michel Camilo is a Grammy Award-winning performer known for his cross-pollinated mix of Latin, jazz, and classical styles. Born in 1954 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Camilo came from a very musical family (all nine of his uncles were musicians). Originally playing accordion, he switched to piano around age nine when he also began his formal music studies. By the time he was 16 years old, Camilo was playing with the National Symphony Orchestra...
Full Bio
What's Up?, Michel Camilo
View in iTunes
  • $9.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: May 10, 2013

Customer Ratings

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