Along with Willie Colon, brother Charlie Palmieri, and other Fania and Tico label artists, Eddie Palmieri helped forged the innovative mix of salsa, boogaloo, jazz, soul, and rock that helped define the New York-Latin sound of the '70s and '80s. The '60s, though, found Palmieri mostly focused on Cuban and Puerto Rican music and jazz. A high point for Palmieri during this fruitful period certainly must be his Tico release Molasses: a fine record that has salsa both frenetic ("Campesino (El Pregon de la Montana)") and even keeled ("Tiradote Flores"), as well as percussion-heavy descargas ("Bombonsito de Pozo"). The set also includes evocations of important figures like Palmieri's former boss and smooth, Latin-big band leader Tito Rodriguez (the mid-tempo mambo "Traguito") and salsa pioneer Arsenio Rodriguez (the raw, Afro-Cuban vocal and percussion attack of "Carnival en Camaguey"). And for even more variety, a straight pop rendition of the Andre Previn standard "You're Gonna Hear From Me" is included. Throughout the set, Palmieri shows off his considerable, McCoy Tyner-inspired piano chops. His band is equally impressive, especially vocalist Ismael Quintana, percussionist Manny Oquendo, and trombonists Barry Rogers and Jose Rodrigues (the latter two being part of Palmieri's signature two trombone and flute front line). Molasses is one of the many excellent titles in the Palmieri catalog and certainly one of the Latin master's best recordings from the '60s.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Cook