Jazz CD Reviews

Michel Camilo, piano – What’s Up? – Okeh
Florian Ross – Front Room Songs (Duets for Piano & Hammond Organ) – Fuhrwerk Musik

A pair of sort-of solo piano CDs, one upbeat and one laid back.

Published on June 7, 2013

Michel Camilo, piano – What’s Up? – Okeh 88883703992, 52:56 (Sony Masterworks) ****:

Florian Ross – Front Room Songs (Duets for Piano & Hammond Organ) – Fuhrwerk Musik FWM 007, 47:43 ****:

I interviewed Michel Camilo for my radio series when he was just starting out, with his first release on another label. The Dominican Republic-born pianist and composer has  now won GRAMMYS and Emmys, and this new release is part of Sony Classical’s revival of the old Okeh label to document what they call “Global Expressions in Jazz.” He was his own producer of this session, and the 11 tracks demonstrate the originality and versatility of the classically-trained pianist with seven of his compositions and four of his arrangements of Latin and jazz standards.

Camilo personally admires the legacy of Dave Brubeck, and on “Take Five” he says it is his take on the work’s “perpetual polyrhythmic intricacies.”  His brilliant technique is matched by a rich use of jazz harmonies and textures, and an often-inserted flavor of Afro-Caribbean rhythms. He appeared in the award-winning Latin jazz documentary Calle 54 and has recorded several film soundtracks. Although he has worked with duos, trios, sextets and big bands, for this CD it was just Camilo and his solo piano.  His multi-rhythmic approach and complex harmonies never have the listener wishing for the addition of a rhythm section.

TrackList:

  1. What’s Up? (Michel Camilo)
    2. A Place In Time (Michel Camilo)
    3. Take Five (Paul Desmond)
    4. Sandra’s Serenade (Michel Camilo)
    5. Island Beat (Michel Camilo)
    6. Alone Together (Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz)
    7. Paprika (Michel Camilo)
    8. Love For Sale (Cole Porter)
    9. Chan Chan (Compay Segundo)
    10. On Fire (Michel Camilo)
    11. At Dawn (Michel Camilo)

The latest of Florian Ross’s CDs may look at first like it’s just for solo piano, but the subtitle makes it clear that the German jazzman/composer/arranger has over-dubbed both Hammond organ and piano for most of the 11 tracks of this disc. Some of the tracks have such subtle organ additions that they sound almost like unaccompanied piano. Only the very last one has an untranslated German title. They are mostly easily-swinging and fairly laid back modern jazz, with the piano part frequently occurring over a subtle bed of organ support.

Ross currently lives in Cologne, and is inspired in his more classical works by English composers such as Britten, Elgar and Peter Warlock. He was written works for major ensembles such as the Metropole Orchestra Hilversum, the Bamberg Symphonic Orchestra, The Vancouver Jazz Orchestra, and for various broadcasting companies.

                TrackList:

1. Alice in Wonderland
2. Daffodil
3. Blackbird  
4. Jennifer
5. I Love Music  
6. I Should Care  
7. Let‘s Play a Bit
8. Everybody‘s Song But My Own  
9. Meditation in D  
10. Porridge Experience  
11. Der Mond Ist Aufgegangen

—John Sunier




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