Michel Camilo / Tomatito

Spain Again

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Michel Camilo, the New York-based, Dominican-born pianist, and Tomatito, the Spanish flamenco guitarist, recorded a well-received duets album called Spain in 2000, and this sequel is intended to take the collaboration to the next level. Spain Again does. It's a bravura performance that pushes both men into strange and satisfying new territories and spotlights the abilities of each to find places where they are mutually comfortable and inspired. As on the first pairing, the musicianship is flawless throughout, the two virtuosos dancing around each other's melodies, creating fascinating, harmonious bridges, building upon and toying with structural ideas beyond what each composition calls for. Camilo's complex jazz piano inventions suddenly give way to Tomatito's spellbinding acoustic guitar runs; the two meet someplace in the middle, enjoy the freedom that unfettered exploration allows, and emerge with new entities that only an alliance of equals can bring about. The pace is set quickly with "El Dia Eque Me Quieras," a tribute to tango legend Astor Piazzolla, moves through various originals and standards (a silky, semi-classical "Stella by Starlight" is both graceful and awe-inspiring in its mastery) and eventually finds its way to the only vocal piece on the album, "Amor de Conuco," sung by guest Juan Luis Guerra. Strangely, though the vocal is quite lovely, it's a mood-breaker, diminishing the evocative elegance that Camilo and Tomatito have spent much of the past hour laying out.

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