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Latin - Released December 31, 1981 | Fania

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World - Released December 31, 1970 | Fania

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Latin - Released September 25, 2007 | Fania

During the late '50s and early '60s, progressive Latin music was ruled by the charanga, a light and springlike configuration emphasizing flutes and violins. Although pianist Eddie Palmieri didn't break that mold, his debut recordings as a leader did change the game quite a bit. With nimble rhythms and a powerhouse front line featuring R&B trombone player Barry Rogers and Palmieri's strident piano playing -- he played his piano percussively, due to early timbales lessons -- the group lay at the intersection of R&B, jazz, and, of course, Latin music. Palmieri's debut album, La Perfecta released in 1962 on the Alegre label, was not only a Latin masterpiece but also paved the way for the free-form extravaganza that became salsa later in the decade. Palmieri's group continued until 1967, recording for Alegre or Tico, and the best of the band's work appears on the 19-track compilation Sugar Daddy. Compared to Ray Barretto, Tico's other star of the time, Palmieri's group had slightly less emphasis on the heavy groove (and novelty tendencies) of R&B popcorn. With plenty of percussion plus the soaring sonero vocals of longtime Palmieri associate Ismael Quintana, the band was closer to the sound of traditional Puerto Rican music than most Latin groups working then. The compilation includes four tracks from La Perfecta, as well as the best of his other '60s LPs like Echando Pa'lante (Straight Ahead) and Azucar Pa' Ti (Sugar for You) (the latter including the excellent ten-minute track "Azúcar"). © John Bush /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2005 | Concord Records

During his career, Eddie Palmieri hasn't seemed completely comfortable unless he's allowing others to challenge him. It was true at the beginning of his career when he revolutionized Latin music with his charanga, the La Perfecta ensemble; it was true during the mid-'60s when he recorded two respected dates with Cal Tjader; it was true during the '60s and '70s when he energized the Latin superstar band, the Fania All-Stars; and it was still true in early 2005 when he recorded Listen Here! Released on Concord Picante, it sees an array of excellent jazz instrumentalists sharing solo space with his regular group. First up is Regina Carter, not a natural fit for a Latin group by anyone's estimation, but still a master musician whose sprightly violin proves surprisingly sympathetic with Palmieri's tough salsa unit (and she hangs on easily when the band kicks in to a hardcore salsa halfway through). Tenor Michael Brecker and bassist Christian McBride also prove up to the task on the title track, a salsa re-imagination of Eddie Harris' near-standard "Listen Here." Elsewhere, Palmieri gets several chances to extend his arranging chops, by translating a trio of real standards -- "Tin Tin Deo," "In Walked Bud," "Nica's Dream" -- for his group. © John Bush /TiVo
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World - Released January 1, 2010 | Fania

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World - Released December 31, 1975 | Fania

History is one of those great 1970s compilations that has just enough perspective to get it right. Material is drawn from both Tico and Alegre albums, and wide varieties of rhythm, tempos, and style are represented, but not too wide. Salsa fans will find much of interest. "Cuidate Compay" and "Conmigo" in particular are hot dance tracks which still sound fresh and infectious. It may not be correct to call the album a "history" of Eddie Palmieri, but it is a great slice of his best work from the 1960s. It is, at least, a history until Harlem River Drive. History serves well as an introduction to the "Sun of Latin Music, " but even longtime Palmieri fans may want it in addition to the originals or other compilations. © Tony Wilds /TiVo
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Latin - Released December 31, 1962 | Fania

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1998 | RMM Records

Grand master Palmieri and his ensemble, usually a tentet or slightly larger, explore punchy horn charts, the "son" song form, hot percussion grooves, a Mexican folk and straight jazz tune, and the infectiously distinctive Latin jazz (no one plays montuno better) or "Afro-World" (Palmieri's definition) music that few have mastered. Certainly no one surpasses the pianist/bandleader when it comes to sustained intensity. This recording starts off easily with a midtempo anthem of pride, "Sube," and the half-speed "Cafe," then kicks into high gear for the remainder of the program. Every track is truly exceptional, and you'll have personal faves. Consider that the following eight cuts may comprise as solid a program as Palmieri has ever sonically documented, from the unique melody of the horns in "Pas D'histoires," "La Llave" and Arsenio Rodriguez's "Oiga Mi Guaguanco," the traded lead vocals of Wichy Camcho and Herman Olivera on those pieces as well as "Malaguena Salerosa," "El Dueno Monte" and "Para Que Escuchen," to Eddie's first-ever plena (essentially Puerto Rican journalism through music), "Donde Esta Mi Negra." As a complete bandleader, being writer, arranger, interpreter, there is so much evident passion involved, and Palmieri's personal fire and brimstone is stamped on each measure. The band is "on" with every phrase and line. The music leaps out of the speakers. Palmieri, as the dynamo monster we all know he is, proves time and time again his mettle as the ultimate performer and piano percussionist in his inimitable ultra-melodic/harmonic/rhythmic way. Now, many of Palmieri's recordings are rife with absolutely startling pieces, but not as concentrated as heard here. This CD is more extraordinary with each track. It is likely his very best, certainly his most consistently satisfying date in a lengthy career filled with highlights and fireworks. Nominated for a Grammy in the Tropical Latin performance category in 1998. © Michael G. Nastos /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2003 | Concord Records

Pianist Eddie Palmieri, an innovative part of the Latin jazz and salsa scenes since the late '50s, mixes together a variety of idioms on this intriguing set. He uses a number of horns (including two or three trombones), an expanded rhythm section, occasional strings, and (on six of the 11 selections) a vocal group. Although there are some fine individual solos (including those from Palmieri and trumpeter Brian Lynch), it is the joyful sound of the ensembles that is most impressive. The individual tunes do not stick in one's mind and sometimes the music wanders away from jazz altogether into commercial salsa, but most of this set should be of interest to Afro-Cuban jazz listeners. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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World - Released December 31, 1986 | Fania

Eddie Palmieri's 1971 LP Vamonos Pa'l Monte moves easily from the nearly avant-garde trumpet-battle opener "Revolt/La Libertad Logico" into the new-era-meets-old "Caminando," complete with an excellent electric-piano solo by Palmieri himself. He also takes the lead on the seven-minute title-track jam, this time with organ (backed by brother Charlie), backed by a strong vocal chorus (Justo Betancourt, Santos Colon, Yayo el Indio) and the rugged timbales playing of Nick Marrero. Above and beyond the irresistible arrangements and intricate playing, Vamonos Pa'l Monte benefits from one of the best recording jobs of any early-'70s salsa record, each section -- and practically each musician -- vigorously separated with clear stereo. Though many fans consider it a transition record toward the compositional brilliance of The Sun of Latin Music, it's actually a much better record for fans of traditional salsa. © John Bush /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2002 | Concord Records

Innovative Latin jazz pianist Eddie Palmieri returns to the music of his classic '60s ensemble La Perfecta on La Perfecta II. After disbanding La Perfecta in 1968 due to financial difficulties and later the death of trombonist/partner Barry Rogers in 1991, Palmieri vowed to never again perform the music he made famous. However, presented with the diligent transcriptions of La Perfecta's recordings by trombonist Doug Beavers, Palmieri felt the time had come for this music to be heard anew. What a gift. This is classic salsa, charanga, and mambo performed by some of the finest musicians in the Latin and jazz idioms. The music has just as much fire and energy as the originals, but references the best of progressive modern jazz arranging. Beavers even arranged one of Rogers' solos (on "Tirandote Flores") for three trombones. Joining in are many longtime Palmieri collaborators, like trumpeter Brian Lynch and trombonist Conrad Herwig as well as saxophonist Mario Rivera and percussionist John Rodriguez Jr. This is music you can dance to that also features forward-thinking jazz soloing of the highest order. © Matt Collar /TiVo
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Latin - Released December 31, 1964 | Fania

Eddie Palmieri first hit in the '60s with his classic two-trombone sound. This is one of his finest albums; unassuming, joyous, punchy, and sharp, it has the outstanding Ismael Quintana on vocals and Manny Oquendo on timbales. © John Storm Roberts /TiVo
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Latin Jazz - Released November 1, 2005 | Nonesuch

Eddie Palmieri's Palmas starts at full speed and doesn't stop, except for some thoughtful extended piano noodling on "Bolero Dos." The band features three jazz horn players (trumpet, trombone, saxophone) in front of a smokin' Latin rhythm section, all held together by the maestro on piano. Palmieri typically starts off a number with familiar Latin piano patterns which quickly evolve into completely innovative chord combinations. The horn players take the listener on some musical adventures in each of these extended tunes, flying far afield, but always coming back to the theme. The percussionists keep their complex beat for the most part, but occasionally swap rhythmic places with the horns as the timbales or bongos take a solo while the brass pumps out the time. Palmieri's style has evolved significantly over the decades. Fans of his older salsa material will be surprised by Palmas; listeners who discover this man through Palmas will be surprised when they seek out older material. But careful listening reveals surprising constancies in Palmieri's piano playing over the years. Be ready for a trip on this one. © Bruce Ishikawa /TiVo
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Salsa - Released March 10, 2020 | White Room Music

World - Released January 1, 2000 | RMM Records

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For anyone wondering when the two most luminary voices in New York Latin jazz would finally join forces, even if for just a moment, the 2000 release of Masterpiece/Obra Maestra is the answer. A collaboration between big-band Latino king Tito Puente and salsa/jazz great Eddie Palmieri is the stuff that clave dreams are made of. Both taking turns as writing/conductor/performer, Palmieri and Puente affect each other's artistry in an infinitely satisfying way. Puente fans will delight in the addition of salsa-driven choro and sonero, unquestionably the handiwork of his counterpart. Palmieri enthusiasts will certainly notice and appreciate the indisputably Puente-penned sexy horn lines and band sound. Who but the mighty RMM label could have either conceived or produced such promising pursuit? Like a modern-day Fania, RMM can be credited with some of the most innovative and impacting projects of its time. The band sound is rich and sultry, featuring both the unmistakable virtuosity of Palmieri's solo work and the incendiary fury of Puente, the undisputed timbal master. If there is one flaw to be found in Masterpiece/Obra Maestra, it is that it was not followed up with dozens of more joint ventures from these towering musical giants. © Evan C. Gutierrez /TiVo
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World - Released January 1, 1995 | RMM Records

Pianist/composer Eddie Palmieri has long been a giant of Afro-Cuban (or Latin) jazz. While some recordings in this idiom lean too far in one direction -- not enough jazz improvising, or in other cases, a percussion section that sounds as if it were added on as an afterthought -- Palmieri has struck a perfect balance. In trumpeter Brian Lynch, trombonist Conrad Herwig and altoist Donald Harrison, he has three strong soloists who match well with the trio of percussionists. In addition to Palmieri, bassist John Benitez and drummer Adam Cruz (the latter is on just four of the eight Palmieri originals) are flexible enough to play both swing and Latin. A strong plus to this date are the compositions/arrangements of Palmieri, which pay close attention to varying moods, instrumental colors and grooves. Consistently complex and unpredictable, the music is still always quite accessible and enjoyable, thanks to the percussionists. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Latin - Released December 31, 1964 | Fania

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Jazz - Released August 12, 2016 | Epic

A late-'70s offering (originally on Epic), this LP has moments of real brilliance. The title track, for instance, is a nice long jammer and lets Palmieri show off his talent for unique arrangements. It doesn't hurt, of course, that players like his brother Charlie and stratospheric trumpeter Jon Faddis are in the mix. Most of the record, however, is marred by a disco-leaning production style that saw fit to introduce chanting strings and lots of singers making "oo, oo, oo" noises. The final effect is less than one would expect from this eclectic Latin master and more of what one would find as incidental music from an episode of Adam-12. © Rob Ferrier /TiVo
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Latin - Released December 31, 1984 | Fania

1984's Palo Pa Rumba is more of a dancers' album than most previous albums by Eddie Palmieri, but that does not make it dated or uninteresting to hear. Rather, it is like the great live Tito Rodriguez at the Palladium album: outdoor concert, festival-stage music. And the comparison is no coincidence. Palmieri played on Tito Rodriguez at the Palladium and considers it one of the greatest live albums ever recorded. A simpler reason is that Palo Pa Rumba is Palmieri's first album to feature entirely Puerto Rican musicians. Palmieri himself states in the liners, "I hope you enjoy our music. And now let's dance." To do neither is inconceivable. © Tony Wilds /TiVo
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Latin - Released December 31, 1964 | Fania