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Three Questions to Michel Camilo About his Upcoming Concert in Santo Domingo

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Michel Camilo en Trio
Michel Camilo en Trio with Ricky Rodríguez and Dafnis Prieto. Screenshot from YouTube video.

Next Saturday, June 22, the universally recognized pianist Michel Camilo returns to the Carlos Piantini Hall of the Eduardo Brito National Theater (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic) for his concert “En Trío”, a very special presentation in which he will be accompanied by the also renowned musicians Dafnis Prieto on drums and Ricky Rodríguez on double bass.

Chatting with Michel, and not wanting to take up too much of his time, since he is on a very busy schedule of presentations around the world, I asked him three questions, the answers to which I share below.

First, a few facts on Michel Camilo:

He is an extraordinary composer and pianist. He is a conductor, lecturer and visiting professor. He is a chart-topping producer; winner of Grammy, Latin Grammy and Emmy awards. He has received the highest civilian honors from his native country.

Camilo is all this and more, wrapped in a human being of unlimited enthusiasm, musical passion and love for life. Michel Camilo’s artistry and virtuosity unite the genres of jazz, classical, popular and world music. He is a pianist with a brilliant technique and a composer who spices his melodies with the flavor of Caribbean rhythms and jazz harmonies. Watching him perform live is witnessing the energy of a tropical storm unleashed on the 88 keys.

Academy Award-winning filmmaker Fernando Trueba, who featured Camilo in his documentary Calle 54, says: “Michel Camilo is one of the most versatile musicians. Whether it’s jazz, classical music, Latin American music or film music, Michel “He’s in his element. Every time I see him play, I feel like I’m witnessing a miracle.”

With these words from my namesake we share those of Michel’s…

Jazz en Dominicana (JenD): How do you feel about your next performance at the National Theater? 

Michel Camilo (MC): I am happy to be able to present my current Trio at the National Theater after our successful residencies with this format at Judson’s Live in Orlando, Florida and at Tokyo Blue Note in Japan. The “En Trio” concert in Santo Domingo will be part of my 2024 Spring and Summer Concert Tour, which includes performances in Miami, Boston, Japan, Holland, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland and New York. This tour contains various formats ranging from Big Band to Trio, to Piano Solo and the Flamenco Piano and Guitar Duo with Tomatito while presenting our new album “Spain Forever Again” (Universal Music Spain) which was recently released worldwide through the networks on April 25, 2024.

JenD: You come in a trio format. With whom? And, what do you like about that format?

MC: Yes. I come with two great musicians, both also Grammy winners. On drums I bring Dafnis Prieto, a virtuoso of his instrument born in Cuba, who has recorded with me, is a member of the Jazz faculty at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami and has also been awarded the “Genius Award” of the Guggenheim Foundation. On the double bass I have Ricky Rodriguez of Puerto Rican origin, who is also a master, who knows his instrument in depth, having studied classical studies at the Conservatory of Puerto Rico and who has recorded and performed on the great stages and festivals of the world with me both in the Trio and Big Band formats.

This “En Trio” concert has the particularity of not only bringing together the influences of the Jazz and Latin Jazz tradition, but also of our rich Antillean cultural heritage: Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

JenD: What kind of repertoire will you have? Can you share the name of some of the songs?

MC: The repertoire is very broad. There will be recognized songs such as “From Within”, “Caribe”, “And Sammy Walked In”, “On Fire”, “Mongo’s Blues”, etc.; but we can also enjoy, for example, songs by the great maestro Ernesto Lecuona such as “La Comparsa”, “Danza Lucumí” or “Para Vigo Me Voy”. Anyway, I think it will be a wonderful night full of surprises!!

Abrazos (hugs), Michel

  • Michel Camilo “En Trio” at the National Theater
  • Date: Saturday June 22
  • Time: 8:30PM
  • Hall: Carlos Piantini Hall
  • Place: Eduardo Brito National Theater
  • Address: Av. Máximo Gómez 35
  • Tickets: The tickets will include Pit, Special Guest, VIP and Balcony and are already on sale at Uepa Tickets, at CCN Servicios de Supermercados Nacional and Jumbo, as well as at the National Theater Box Office.

Jazz en Dominicana is a project created by Fernando Rodríguez de Mondesert in 2006. Since its beginnings it’s been promoting Dominican talents in the Jazz genre. His blog has published more than 2,350 articles, reviews of concerts and festivals, interviews, biographies, photographs and more about what he calls “the patio musicians.”

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