Rendezvous by Michel Camilo
If you are unfamiliar with Mr. Camilo then prepare yourself. Some of the freshest, tightest, and grooviest latin fusion you've ever heard has come from this man.
Rendezvous is one that slipped under my radar until very recently (thanks Spotify) and I immediately went home and downloaded it. Just killer playing from Camilo on piano, Anthony Jackson on bass, and Dave Weckl on kit.
The opener "Tropical Jam," is just that. A Central American jam session (which makes sense since the album was recorded in the Dominican Republic). Give it a listen if you're feeling like the Chiquita banana girl...
Next up is a slow rhumba-esque arrangement of "Caravan." This one isn't as palatable at first as "Tropical Jam," but nonetheless features some of the bluesiest jazz piano I've heard from Camilo not to mention some tasty licks from Mr. Weckl. Prepare to hear Ellington like you've never heard him before.
"El Realejo" follows and does not disappoint. Although Camilo's soloing on this one is a lot to handle. Around the three minute mark, he hits his stride (or maybe this is the melody?) but in some of the shorter phrases, the soloing is hard to follow at times. On another note, the piano-bass or piano-drum unison licks are enough to make you laugh out loud. This one, presumably attributed to the El Realejo of Nicaragua, gives Michel a chance to shine and for the other musicians to show that they can contribute in a more subtle way than most of the tracks on the album.
Next up is the album's title track. The melody from this one is much more easily digested. Some gorgeous melodic and dynamic material that makes this 5:00 tune interesting from the first chords to the last cymbal hit.
"As One" is the album's fifth track and it'll keep you groovin'. It has a very '70's bop-fusion feel with a Stevie Wonder droning chromaticism in the keys. While I found the song a little long overall (7:40) I do dig on Weckl's chance to play around with the odd time signatures. Even throws a little double-bass in there!
"Remembrance" is this album's slow, romantic (in the Latin sense) ballad. Some heart-wrenching stuff in here than isn't just Camilo. Mad props to some of Jackson's moves on bass. Some of those notes just get low.
Track #7 is called "Blacky," and it's the only one that I didn't get jive with. It's tasty, don't get me wrong, but the combination of funky harmonies and mixed meters make it hard to follow for yours truly. The only thing that engages me is the relentless energy the trio brings that keeps the whole thing moving forward.
Penultimate track - "Albertina." Gimme some swing boys! Camilo show's that even he can channel his inner blues-man from time to time. Just an awesome funky/2nd line/latin version of this song.
Last but definitely not least: "From Within." This one is mind-blowing. Check it out on your own!
All in all, Rendezvous is an awesome album from one heck of a trio. If you're new to latin-jazz or modern fusion, then this is a great place to experience it.