Eddie Palmieri Never Gets Old
Maestro Eddie Palmieri has always done things his way so, well, what if he has been celebrating his 80th birthday for almost a year and a half now? (It actually took place Dec. 15th 2016). At the Olympia Theater in Miami, Saturday, he entered the stage with the help of an assistant, but once he sat at the piano, he showed a familiar wit and verve and his talent to surprise intact.
After opening with a brief but affecting solo piece dedicated to his late wife Iraida, Palmieri the player largely ceded the spotlight to his sextet. He was a genial, engaging emcee, setting up and launching the pieces and then stepping back, mostly content with supporting the soloing. That´s no small thing. For all his experimentation and innovations, Palmieri has never lost sight of the dance floor, and you can still set your watch by his montunos.
Still, as the pieces unfolded, Palmieri would pick his spots and add his musical comments – an unexpected, underlined harmony here, a dissonant cluster or a Monk-style cross-rhythm there. A lion in winter is still a lion. Palmieri was once l’enfant terrible of Latin music, so no, he is not going gently into that good night.
That’s another good reason to celebrate. Happy birthday, Mr. Palmieri.
Fernando Gonzalez is the International Editor of JAZZIZ magazine. He writes about music for Artburst and also hosts the blog Jazz With an Accent.com.