Under the leadership of arranger/ composer/ bandleader/ saxophonist Ed Palermo, the Ed Palermo Big Band has been together since 1980, performing live around New York (NYC’s Iridium, Marlboro’s The Falcon) and at US and international jazz (and Zappa!) festivals, and recording albums to the delight of fans and critics worldwide. Composed of top-notch jazz musicians, the tightly-honed big band performs Palermo’s extraordinary arrangements, which combine music from the worlds of rock, pop and blues (Frank Zappa, Todd Rundgren, Paul Butterfield, The Beatles) alongside jazz (Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Mile Davis) and Palermo originals. Their New York shows are typically sold-out events: irresistibly entertaining evenings featuring remarkable music topped with good humor. Just as Duke Ellington and Count Basie's orchestras spoke to their 20th century audiences, the Ed Palermo Big Band keeps the tradition of big band jazz alive in the 21st century, embracing the world of popular music of which it's a part.
The Ed Palermo Big Band has released nearly ten recordings on Cuneiform Records, Sky Cat and other labels. These albums have received rave reviews from a wide array of jazz and music magazines including DownBeat, Jazz Times and Jazziz, all of whom have featured Palermo and his band. Online magazine The Daily Beast recently listed Palermo as one of the top 40 “intriguing musicians to watch out for.”
The Ed Palermo Big Band’s newest album A Lousy Day in Harlem is a landmark work, establishing Palermo's place within jazz tradition and within swinging, entertaining, big band jazz. Giving it 4 stars, Audiophile Audition called it “one of the best large ensemble jazz projects issued this year”, while Jazz Times noted “Twenty- first century big-band music doesn’t get more exciting and impressive than this." Overseas audiences also embraced it, with Jazz in Europe noting: “‘A Lousy Day in Harlem’ is a quality addition to the big band repertoire and is a great example of keeping the big band alive in the 21st century. The fresh balance of combining traditional styles of jazz with contemporary injections makes this album a must-listen for any big band enthusiast."
A key musical element of the Ed Palermo Big Band is surprise. This is true for recordings and live shows alike. Recordings contain unexpected arrangements. The live audience never knows what to expect except pure unfiltered insanity and brilliance. Palermo’s uncanny penchant to “mash up” music of disparate sources is evident in such musically thematic Big Band shows as Zodd Zundgren-The Music of Frank Zappa and Todd Rundgren (which, in one performance, was embedded into a “Wizard of Oz” storyline to become “The Wizard of Zodd”.