Summarizing Eddie Palmieri’s career in a few words is about as easy as attempting to eat an entire watermelon in a single bite.
Palmieri’s daring harmonic experiments on the piano have established his reputation as one of the greatest soloists in the history of Latin jazz. In addition to his dazzling virtuosity, Palmieri is also an extraordinary musical innovator. His early work with La Perfecta laid the foundation for salsa music while his album Harlem River Drive essentially invented the genre of Latin funk.
Palmieri’s talent and musical achievements place him in an elite group of living American musicians. Palmieri’s name can be mentioned comfortably alongside Bob Dylan or Stevie Wonder as an influential force in the development of American music.
I recently had the chance to speak with Palmieri, at 76 years old he’s the most quick-witted and entertaining musician I’ve ever interviewed – cracking jokes and reciting arcane historical facts at every turn. It seems the maestro is still on top of his game, a good indication that his oncoming performance at Jazz Fest on Tuesday, Sept. 17 should not be missed.