Since Michel Camilo has the Midas touch in everything pianistic and musical, his latest release must refer to an equilateral triangle: all sides equal. From his meteoric career as child prodigy who joined the National Symphony Orchestra in his native Santo Domingo at 16 to studying at Juilliard to earning a Grammy and an Emmy, Camilo has balanced a jazz and classical career with equal success.
The technique and imagination required for such a juggling act are all present on Triangulo, plus the ease with which he toys with time. Camilo has so much digital dexterity; he executes complicated, bilingual ideas with enviable ease, no doubt alienating other keyboard players who must sweat in the woodshed.
Adding insult to injury is a title like "Piece of Cake," the first offering, in which he shows how simply montunos can swing. He does it again near the end of the session with an intensely swinging montuno as homage, "Descarga for Tito (Puente)." Highlights between those tunes include two lovely, contemplative original ballads, "Afterthought" and "Just Like You"; a more complex swinging "Mr. C.I.," which transcends Latin jazz and generously features drummer Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez and the deeply creative walking of bassist Anthony Jackson, playing what sounds like a contrabass guitar; and above all, the playful approach to Dizzy's "Con Alma," in which the release is straightahead, while the other "eights" seem to juxtapose 6/8 with 5/4 in Latin.
There's some heady stuff on Triangulo.