by Nick Stubblefield
Growing up playing piano, I was often asked, "Who is your favorite pianist?" It was a tough question, and the fact was that pretty much all of them had passed on, or would soon. That changed when I discovered Dominican-born pianist Michel Camilo, who soon became my favorite living jazz pianist. Camilo plays with furious energy and deep emotion, a line that is often difficult to walk. He can absolutely defy physics with the repeated chords he hits with his right hand, but his virtuosity always seems to serve a larger musical purpose -- one that is fiery, groovy, and heaps of fun.
Last week, the dynamic Camilo brought his trio, along an additional three piece horn section, to the Blue Note for a show he dubbed "Three+Three." The core trio, consisting of Camilo, Lincoln Goines, (bass), and Cliff Almond (drums) played with the kind of easy synchronization that only comes from years of familiarity with each other. Michael Mossman (trumpet), Ralph Bowen (sax and flute), and Conrad Herwig (trombone) complemented the trio sound perfectly, each taking vicious, masterful turns on solos. The added "Three" had the added benefit of allowing Camilo to play his compositions that are often reserved for his big band.