As part of his 80th Birthday Celebration Tour, Piano Master Eddie Palmieri came to Toronto with his Latin Jazz Septet. It was actually a sextet, integrated by Eddie Palmieri on piano, Luques Curtis on bass, Vicente “Little Johnny” Rivero on congas, Camilo Molina on timbales, Louis Fouché on alto saxophone and John Walsh subbing for Jonathan Powell. Legendary Fania All Stars timbalero/bongocero Nicky Marrero couldn’t make it that evening.
We’ve been very fortunate to have Maestro Palmieri performing in Toronto, previously on May 15, 2017 when he came to Koerner Hall (The Royal Conservatory) with his Salsa Orchestra, and this time at the intimate Flato Markham Theatre on the evening of December 1st 2017, with his Latin jazz band.
A legendary artist, a great, witty entertainer still going strong at 80 (actually he just turned 81), Mr. Palmieri is a revered icon for Latin Music lovers. A pianist, bandleader, arranger, composer, educator and innovator who revolutionized the New York Latin music scene with his band La Perfecta in 1961. He has received numerous awards and honours. Among the latest, the coveted Jazz Master award by the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA), and a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences.
The evening got started with Mr. Palmieri honouring his late wife, Iraida Palmieri, with a composition he wrote for her: “Para Iraida (For Iraida).” Luques Curtis joined him for a memorable duet of piano and bass. The full band continued with a Latin/West Coast/cool jazz classic piece -“Picadillo”- written by Tito Puente and recorded by Cal Tjader with Eddie Palmieri in El Sonido Nuevo (The New Soul Sound) back in 1966.
“Palmieri is considered the architect of progressive Salsa.
While solidly grounded in the Afro-Cuban musical tradition,
Palmieri was always pushing musical boundaries.”
– Dr. Gregory “Goyo” Pappas
The next piece, “La Libertad Lógico” or simply “La Libertad” is another classic that came out in 1971 in one of the most important recordings of Eddie Palmieri, “Vámonos Pa’l Monte.” Sung by one of the greatest Puertorrican soneros, Ismael Quintana, who passed away in 2016, “La Libertad” was re-arranged as a powerful Latin jazz descarga where every musician got a turn to shine.
The next song, “Samba do Suenho” is a beautiful Brasilian inflected tune written by Cal Tjader, recorded with Eddie Palmieri in his album Bamboleate back in 1967.
The last song of this unforgettable celebration was “Puerto Rico.” A composition of Eddie Palmieri and Ismael Quintana, arranged by Barry Rogers, it came out on the album Sentido in 1973. A new instrumental arrangement by saxophonist Louis Fouché gave new life to this anthemic tune, which is considered a second national hymn by the people of Puerto Rico.
A grateful Eddie Palmieri expressed his strong willingness to be around us for many years to come. He’s a true master and educator whose bands are high level educational institutions where musicians graduate with honours. Very proud of the members of his band, Mr. Palmieri introduced them to the audience, praising them highly for their talent and musicianship, and for giving him lots of good vibrations and energy to keep going. He talked with great respect about his mentors, Tito Puente, his big brother Charlie Palmieri and other pioneers of Latin/Jazz music, which speaks highly about his legendary status.
A big thank you to Eric Lariviere, General Manager of Flato Markham Theatre for making possible this concert, allowing us to experience hardcore Latin Jazz from the old school, and for programming acts that reflect the cultural diversity of the growing population of Markham, a thriving city that looks to the future. Finally, a big thank you to the audience for being so appreciative of the art of the Eddie Palmieri Latin Jazz Septet.
Photos of Eddie Palmieri and his Latin Jazz Septet by Atael Weissman
Check our complete photo gallery in our FB page: facebook.com/latinjazznet/