Eddie Palmieri

El Rumbero del Piano

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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.

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