Michel Camilo – Why Not?
1985 – King Record Co.
I just picked this album up yesterday and will be sharing my thoughts through my first listen with you. The version of the LP that I grabbed is a Japanese pressing, so I can’t read any of the liner notes, but it does have the musician’s names in English on the back cover, so that is a start. Although I’ve heard other Michel Camilo albums, this one is new to me. With drummer Dave Weckl, two percussionists, Sammy Figueroa and Guarionex Aquino, along with Michel’s percussive playing style, I’m sure I will have plenty to discuss. Rounding out the band are Lew Soloff on trumpet, Chris Hunter on sax, and Anthony Jackson on bass. The first things that stands out to me are precision and dynamics in the arrangements. All the hits, breakdowns, and lead ins to the solos are so tight. Anthony Jackson really shines here, he somehow plays ahead and behind the beat all at once, giving you forward propulsion while maintaining a deep pocket. He is fun to watch play live, look up some videos of him, his facial expressions are amazing. The piano playing on the album defies what should be able to be done on piano. Michel will play something that sounds like his two hands are getting a workout, and then will start comping with what must be a third hand. Through the complexity, it sounds like he is having fun. Just listen to the track “Why Not?” to get a sense of this as he injects a bit of “St. Thomas” into his solo. The piano is technically a percussion instrument, and that is full showcased here, Michel pounds on it as if it were a conga. The two percussionists contributions are subtle but elevating. They are never on top of any of the mixes, but their baseline gives the other musicians room to stretch out. Dave Weckl is rock solid, laying down a solid groove that interacts with the percussionists and the other members of the band while still maintaining his own definable sound. This recording is from the 80s, and at times sound like as such, but overall feels fresh. I highly recommend any of Michel Camilo’s recordings.