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Michel Camilo

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Michel Camilo (born April 4, 1954) is a pianist and composer from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He is known as a great jazz, latin and classical pianist with superb technical ability, and has played and recorded with many world-famous musicians. Michel lists some of his main influences as Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, and Art Tatum.

Michel was born into a musical family and as a young child showed great aptitude for the accordion that his parents gave him. Although he enjoyed the accordion, it was his grandparents’ piano that sparked his interest the most, so at aged 9 he asked his parents to buy him one. Their response was to first send him to the Elementary Music School, part of the National Conservatory, and then a year later to grant his wish.

The formal system of the music school taught Michel to play in the classical style, and by aged 16 he was playing with the National Symphony Orchestra of the Dominican Republic. Michel comments on his first encounter with the sounds of jazz, in an interview with the All About Jazz website:

”The first time I heard jazz was when I was 14 and a half. I heard the great Art Tatum on the radio playing his solo piano rendition of ‘Tea for Two.’ That immediately caught my ear. I just wanted to soak it in, to learn to play that style. Then I found out it was jazz.”

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