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Eddie Palmieri

Eddie Palmieri is an NEA Jazz Master

Eddie Palmieri, known for his charismatic power and bold pioneering drive, has a musical career that spans over 50 years as a bandleader of both Salsa and Latin Jazz orchestras. Born in Spanish Harlem in 1936, Eddie 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 El Barrio. At age 11, he auditioned at Weil Recital Hall, next door to 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 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.”

Eddie Palmieri has a discography that includes 36 titles and has been awarded ten Grammy Awards. The first Grammy Award he received was in 1975 for the recording entitled “The Sun of Latin Music,” a historic moment, as it was the first time the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS) recognized Latin Music. He would win again the following year for “Unfinished Masterpiece,” “Palo Pa ‘ Rumba” in 1984, “Solito” in 1985 and “La Verdad” in 1987. He received both a Latin Grammy and a traditional Grammy for the 2000 release with Tito Puente entitled “Obra Maestra/Masterpiece,” “Listen Here!” would win in 2006 and “Simpatico” in 2007, a collaborative effort with trumpet master Brian Lynch. “Simpatico” was also recognized by the Jazz Journalist Association as Best Latin Jazz Album. In November, 2013 Mr. Palmieri received the Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (LARAS) Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1993, he was appointed to the Board of Governors of the New York chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, and in 1995 he was instrumental in creating the new category for Latin Jazz. His album “Palmas” was among the nominees in this newly created category, and in 1996 he was nominated once again for his album “Arete.”

Eddie 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 also spent a year with the Tito Rodriguez Orchestra before forming his own band, the legendary “La Perfecta” in 1961. La Perfecta was unique in that it featured a trombone section in place of trumpets (led by the late Barry Rogers), something that had been rarely done in latin music, demonstrating the early stages of Palmieri’s unorthodox means of orchestration. They were known as “the band with the crazy roaring elephants” because of the configuration of two trombones, flute, percussion, bass and a vocalist. With its one of a kind sound, La Perfecta soon joined the ranks of Machito, Tito Rodriguez and other major Latin orchestras of the day. Palmieri’s influences include not only his older brother Charlie but also Jesus Lopez, Lili Martinez and other Cuban players of the 1930s and 1940s; jazz luminaries such as Art Tatum, Bobby Timmons, Bill Evans, Horace Silver, Bud Powell and McCoy Tyner. 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 a cross-cultural effect that makes magnificent music.”

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Brian Lynch
Bobby Stern
saxophone, tenor
LuisGa Núñez
bass, acoustic
Molly Skuse
voice / vocals
Sixth Street All Stars
band / orchestra


Concert Schedule

Album Discography

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson




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