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Essential Eddie Palmieri

Five albums that define the NEA Jazz Master

Eddie Palmieri, 1960s (Photo courtesy of Eddie Palmieri)
Eddie Palmieri in the '70s (Photo courtesy of Eddie Palmieri)
Azucar Pa’ Ti by Eddie Palmieri
La Perfecta by Eddie Palmieri
Palmas by Eddie Palmieri
Unfinished Masterpiece by Eddie Palmieri
Vamonos Pa’l Monte by Eddie Palmieri

La Perfecta (Alegre, 1962)

Early on, Palmieri was enamored equally of Bach’s counterpoint and the work of Arsenio Rodriguez, a Cuban bandleader known for “re-Africanizing” the island’s music in the first half of the 20th century with crisscrossing rhythms. Both those influences are at the core of Palmieri’s debut album, but ultimately this scans like a pop record. All the tracks are compact, danceable gems, and none wander far from the three-minute mark. La Perfecta belongs alongside Meet the Beatles! and James Brown’s Live at the Apollo: It synthesized a musical lineage and pointed to a way forward in an era when commercial viability was now beholden to the delights of young listeners.

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Originally Published