His discography includes more than 30 titles. He has been awarded five Grammys, including the first presentation in the Best Latin Album category for his 1975 release The Sun of Latin Music and the following year for Unfinished Masterpiece. Palo Pa' Rumba won in 1984, Solito in 1985 and La Verdad in 1987. He was awarded the Eubie Blake Award by Dr.
Billy Taylor in 1991 and he is among the few Latin musicians recognized by the Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico and the New York State Assembly. In 1988, the Smithsonian Institution recorded two of Palmieri's performances for their catalog of the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., a rare public honor. The 1998 Heineken Jazz Festival in San Juan, PR, paid tribute to his contributions as a bandleader, bestowing him an honorary doctorate degree from the Berklee College of Music. As a member of the New York chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, he was instrumental in creating a new category for Latin Jazz in 1995. His 1994 album, Palmas, was among the nominees for the first award presented in that category in March 1995.
In 1996, he was once again nominated for his album Arete. Born in Spanish Harlem in 1936, Palmieri began piano studies at an early age, as did his celebrated older brother, the late salsa legend and pianist Charlie Palmieri. For Latin New Yorkers of Eddie's generation, music was a vehicle out of the barrio. At age 11, he made his classical debut at Carnegie Hall, a venue as far from the Bronx as he could imagine. Possessed by a desire to play the drums, Palmieri joined his uncle's orchestra at age 13, where he played the timbales.
Says Palmieri, "By 15, it was good-bye timbales' and back to the piano until this day. I'm a frustrated percussionist, so I take it out on the piano." He began his professional career as a pianist in the early '50s with Eddie Forrester's Orchestra. In 1955 he joined Johnny Segui's band. He spent a year with the Tito Rodriguez Orchestra before forming his own band, the legendary "Conjunto La Perfecta," in 1961.
La Perfecta featured a trombone section (led by the late Barry Rogers) in place of trumpets, something that had been rarely done in Latin music, and which demonstrated the early stages of Palmieri's unconventional means of orchestration. They were known as "the band with the crazy roaring elephants" for the configuration of two trombones, flute, percussion, bass and vocalist. With an infectious and soaring sound, Palmieri's band soon joined the ranks of Machito, Tito Rodriguez, and the other major Latin orchestras of the day. Palmieri's influences include not only his older brother Charlie but Jesus Lopez, Chapotin, Lili Martinez and other Cuban players of the 1940s; and jazz luminaries Art Tatum, Bobby Timmons, Bill Evans, Horace Silver, Bud Powell, McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock and Miles Davis.
Equally important were influences derived from Palmieri's curiosity and incessant search to unearth his family's roots and seek out the origins of the music that profoundly inspired him. Says Palmieri, "In Cuba, there was a development and crystallization of rhythmical patterns that have excited people for years. Cuban music provides the fundamental from which I never move. Whatever has to be built must be built from there.
It's that cross-cultural effect that makes magnificent music." His solid interpretation of Afro-Caribbean music and its confluence with jazz is evident in Eddie Palmieri's astute arranging skills, which assemble those components in dramatic and compelling compositions. The visionary maestro of Latin music is back with his first salsa album in eleven years! EL RUMBERO DEL PIANO Five-time Grammy award winner Eddie Palmieri is one of the most prolific and popular Latin musicians of the 20th century. An enigmatic performer, virtuoso pianist and imaginative composer, Palmieri's new production, El Rumbero del Piano, returns to his roots as leader of one of Latin music's most phenomenal dance bands. Accompanied by the finest musicians of New York and Puerto Rico, Palmieri presents a sensational combination of salsa, bomba, plena, son montuno and jazz.
El Rumbero del Piano is a spectrum of memorable and danceable music in nine outstanding tracks, featuring vocals by Wichy Camacho and Herman Olivera, two of Latin music's most inspiring singers. In his modern version of Arsenio Rodriguez's classic "Oigan mi Guaguanco," Palmieri pays tribute to Rodriguez, the great Cuban tres player, one of the founding fathers of today's tropical music. Puerto Rican customs and culture are the centerpiece of the bomba tune "El Dueno Monte," in which the vocalists pay tribute to other legendary figures of Puerto Rico's folk music, including singer Ismael Rivera and the musicians of the Cepeda family. In "Donde Esta mi Negra," Palmieri gives new life to a genre known as "the people's newspaper"---the plena.
This is the first plena Palmieri has composed and arranged. Another treat is a salsa version of "La Malaguena Salerosa," composed by Pedro Galindo and Elpidio Ramirez. The final track, "Para que Escuchen" is pure Palmieri, urging listeners to hear the talking drum. Read more on Last.fm.
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