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Eddie Palmieri: Sabiduria/Wisdom

James Nadal By

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In celebration of his eightieth birthday, and sixty years as a professional musician, pianist Eddie Palmieri presents Sabiduria/Wisdom, a prodigious testament to his avowed spirit of investigation, and amazing zest for life. Throughout his illustrious recording career, Palmieri has expanded upon the complexities of Afro-Caribbean rhythms, combining them with the serious elements in the melodic and harmonic structures of jazz, to come up with what he refers to as dance music. With his renowned trademark percussive attack on the piano, Palmieri's trajectory and stature in the realm of Latin jazz is unrivaled, and this record just might be his crowning achievement.

The current aggregation of accompanists on this release, stresses the fact that Palmieri has an incredible ear for talent and knows how to obtain maximum contribution from his collaborators. "Cuerdas Y Tumbao," opens the set, and, as the name implies, it is a string and drum emprise, featuring the dexterous violin work of Alfredo de la Fe, atop intense percussive pulsation. Xavier Rivera and Camilo Molina play the dignified batá drums to introduce "Wise Bata Blues," leading to the horn section of: saxophonists Jeremy Powell and Louis Fouche, trumpeters Jonathan Walsh and Jonathan Powell, exchanging solos before the arrival of Palmieri's piano, accented by the fierce drumming of Obed Calvaire. The title track is an all-star funk oriented encounter, with veteran drummer Bernard Purdie laying down the beat, with assistance from super bassist Marcus Miller, saxophonist Ronnie Cuber taking the first solo, followed by David Spinozza on a blazing guitar. If you are going to play Latin infused funk, these are the guys you want on the session.

The fundamental mambo rhythm is revived on "La Cancha," featuring vibraphonist Joe Locke working his mallets, joined by the violin of de la Fe, for an unusual twist. New Orleans sax man Donald Harrison adds his unique nouveau swing on "Augustine Parish," where the horn meets the drum, reminding us about the Caribbean undercurrent so prevalent in the music of the Crescent City. Harrison returns on "The Uprising," which has the familiar intro and extended excerpts from Palmieri's "La Libertad Logico" but takes off into Harrison vocalizing in the syncopated style of the Mardi Gras Indians, of which he is Big Chief. The drummers, Anthony Carrillo on bongos, Little Johnny Rivero on congas, and timbalero Luisito Quintero, rise to the occasion on this (and every) track, as they conjure the spirits of Congo Square, which brought the drums to America.

The tranquil sounds of "Samba Do Suenho," brings Locke back on vibes, for a Brazilian sojourn expertly anchored by bassist Luques Curtis, who shines throughout the production. Locke reappears on "Locked In," this time the tempo increased to a full blown Mozambique rhythm Palmieri loves to compose around. This vibes and piano association recalls the early pioneering recordings Palmieri did with the late great Cal Tjader, during the 1960's. The complete horn section again takes center stage on "Spinal Volt," an aggressive big band guaguanco arrangement, which Palmieri takes great pride in being able to accomplish with gusto, as demonstrated by his inimitable piano montuno, amidst layers of percussion and horns. "Coast To Coast," has the 3/2 clave defining the unmistakable Afro-Cuban son, Cuber wailing on the baritone sax, Curtis with a bopping bass solo, again held together by the piano master directing amongst the drums.

There is a sense of mystery around the intro of "Jibarita Y Su Son," as splashes of electronic keyboards challenge the batá drums of Iwao Sado, and Xavier Rivera in a cross-cultural exchange, leading into a danzon tinged son montuno played on the grand piano. This is classic Palmieri, early inventive expression on piano, then employing the instrument as another member of the percussion family, the song revolving and rising, until the created tension reaches a crescendo. This is the perfect song for closure, and demonstrates why and how Palmieri is so highly regarded. Apart from his superior musicianship and compositional skills, his ability to tune into his accompanists, and vice versa, makes him the premier bandleader he is.

The song "Life," is strategically placed in the center of the record, and has Palmieri playing solo piano, murmuring vocal expressions. It is a subdued ballad, which might invoke the image of an elder shaman performing magic, or a glimpse of a man reflecting upon his accomplishments, either one would be true. Having received prestigious music awards and global recognition, Eddie Palmieri has done it all, acquiring the astute wisdom that only comes from experience. This record is a verification of that wisdom.

Track Listing: Cuerdas Y Tumbao; Wise Bata Blues; Sabiduria; La Cancha; Augustine Parish; Life; Samba Do Suenho; Spinal Volt; The Uprising; Coast To Coast; Locked In; Jibarita y Su Son.

Personnel: Eddie Palmieri: piano; Joe Locke: vibes; Anthony Carrillo: bongo, cowbell; Little Johnny Rivero: conga; Luis Quintero: timbales; Luques Curtis: bass; Obed Calvaire: drums; Iwao Sado: bata drums; Bernard Purdie: drums (3); Ronnie Cuber: saxophone (3, 9, 10); Donald Harrison: saxophone (5, 9), vocals (5, 9); Alfredo de la Fe: violin (1, 4 ); Marcus Miller: bass (3); David Spinozza: electric guitar (3); Camilo Molina: drums (7) bata drums (2) timbales (8) ; Xavier Rivera: bata drums (2, 9, 12); Jonathan Walsh: trumpet (2, 8); Jeremy Powell: saxophone (2, 8); Jonathan Powell: trumpet (2, 8); Louis Fouche: saxophone (2, 8);

Title: Sabiduria/Wisdom | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Ropeadope


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