Michel Camilo – “Island Beat”

Michel Camilo, “Island Beat,” from Live in London

If you’ve spent any time listening to Latin jazz in the past ten years, chances are you’ve come across the artistry of Michel Camilo. A longtime touring member of Paquito D’Rivera’s group, this Dominican Republic-born pianist has racked up numerous accolades during his career, having notched an Emmy, a Grammy, and three Latin Grammys for his impressive body of work. His latest album, Live In London, captures a solo piano concert recorded at Queen Elizabeth Hall, and the level of musicianship Camilo displays across these seven deeply felt songs is undoubtedly praiseworthy. The tunes vary from uptempo salsa numbers to slow, plaintive meditations, demonstrating wide aesthetic breadth, yet each song is articulated with reliably crystalline technique and fiery passion. For a full picture, look no further than “Island Beat,” on which a persistent son montuno groove in Camilo’s left hand serves as a locomotive force, pulling the song’s abstract improvisations toward an exhilarating conclusion.

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