Art Works Blog

Spotlight on Eddie Palmieri

“If one word could describe Maestro Palmieri's playing, it would be 'intensity.' It's a force of nature that aurally represents his life." ---Drummer Bobby Sanabria

“Eddie Palmieri is the greatest friend and the greatest mentor I’ve ever had. The intensity of the good vibes that flow out of him every minute go into the music, and that’s what has touched so many people over the years.” ---Trumpeter Brian Lynch

Tonight's the night! As we prepare for this evening's live webcast of the 2013 NEA Jazz Masters Awards Ceremony and Concert, we introduce you to this year's final honoree: Eddie Palmieri. One of the finest Latin jazz pianists of the past 50 years, Palmieri is also a bandleader of both salsa and Latin jazz orchestras. His playing fuses the rhythm of his Puerto Rican heritage with the melody and complexity of his jazz influences: his older brother Charlie, Thelonious Monk, Herbie Hancock, and McCoy Tyner. Palmieri's parents emigrated from Puerto Rico to New York in 1926, and he grew up in Spanish Harlem. Palmieri learned to play the piano at an early age, and at 13, he joined his uncle's orchestra, playing timbales. Palmieri's professional career as a pianist took off in the early 1950s when he played with bands including Tito Rodriguez Orchestra. In 1961, Palmieri formed his own band, La Perfecta, which featured an unconventional front line of trombones rather than the trumpets customary in Latin orchestras, creating an innovative sound that mixed American jazz into the Latin performances. Palmieri disbanded La Perfecta in 1968, though he returned to the band's music in the 2000s. Palmieri perfected his arranging skills in the 1970s, releasing recordings such as Harlem River Drive, which merged musical categories into a freeform sound that encompassed elements of salsa, funk, soul, and jazz. In 1975, Palmieri won the first-ever Grammy Award for Best Latin Recording for his album The Sun of Latin Music. Palmieri is the recipient of nine Grammys to date.

Tonight at 7:30 p.m., tune in to our live webcast of the 2013 NEA Jazz Masters Ceremony and Concert! The evening will feature performances by past NEA Jazz Masters such as Paquito D’Rivera, Randy Weston, Kenny Barron, and Sheila Jordan, and will celebrate this year’s class of honorees: Lorraine Gordon, Mose Allison, Lou Donaldson, and Eddie Palmieri. Click here for more information.

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