Tropijazz RMD 82067

Review by Mary Kent ©1997 All rights reserved.

The longstanding love affair between jazz and Latin music has given birth to a brand new baby. Latin rhythms have been the source of inspiration for jazz classics such as Watermelon Man, A Night In Tunisia , Manteca, Afro Blue, Perdido and many others. On this occasion, Michel Camilo recorded these and other standards that were not necessarily written by Hispanics, but they all exhibit a Latin flair. Either rhythmically or melodically, these jazz classics are imbued with the sultry sway of the Caribbean cadence. Camilo intricately plays with the melody, going into ornamental flights, but always maintains interest.

Camilo is a brilliant pianist who has melded jazz, Latin and classical music into a unique fused style. But the most salient trait of his musical style is his soulfulness. Best known for his work with trios, in his new release Thru My Eyes, Michel uses four trio combinations.

Camilo surrounded himself with an equally talented cast of musicians: Anthony Jackson plays a self-designed six-stringed contrabass guitar. Cuban drum sensation Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez's arsenal includes the traditional trap set as well as the Latin percussion accents afforded by the timbales, bongos, cowbells and wooden blocks. A veritable feast of high level musicianship, this album also showcases the talents of bassists John Patitucci and Lincoln Goines, and drummer Cliff Almonds.

My favorite tune on the album, Mambo Inn, penned by Mario Bauza, is a tour de force. The ensemble plays at rapid-fire speed and Hernandez and Jackson shine with synchronism.

This Michel Camilo recording Thru My Eyes, on the Tropijazz record label, is the kind of music we will enjoy for many years to come. The golden ear test, on Bob Katz's mastering system, revealed the sound was clear, but too compressed, (engineers have this thing for or against squeezing). Nevertheless, Bob wanted to steal this CD for his collection. I think he dug the music.