Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Ed Palermo Big Band: A Lousy Day in Harlem (Sky Cat)

A review of the arranger/saxophonist/composer's album that plays off of the classic 1958 Art Kane photograph

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.
Ed Palermo Big Band, A Lousy Day in Harlem
The cover of A Lousy Day in Harlem by the Ed Palermo Big Band

There’s often a note of humor in the titles and artwork of arranger/saxophonist/composer Ed Palermo’s recordings (The Great Un-American Songbook featured several British Invasion-era tunes), and this one is no exception: The cover of A Lousy Day in Harlem plays off of the classic 1958 Art Kane photograph of 57 jazz musicians gathered in front of a Harlem brownstone, with Palermo in front of the same building, alone and forlorn.  

But that’s where the funny stuff ends; when Palermo gets down to arranging music, he’s dead serious. Unlike previous efforts from him that focused largely on a single composer (more often than not Frank Zappa), this program roams widely. A couple of the numbers—Monk’s “Well You Needn’t” and Gigi Gryce’s “Minority”—come from musicians who appeared in that 1958 photo; the rest are either Palermo originals or interpretations of pieces both contemporary (Renee Rosnes) and classic (Ellington). Throughout, there’s a uniformity in the airtight arrangements and the seamlessly executed playing. Twenty-first century big-band music doesn’t get more exciting and impressive than this.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.

Jeff Tamarkin

Jeff Tamarkin on social media

Jeff Tamarkin is the former editor of Goldmine, CMJ, Relix, and Global Rhythm. As a writer he has contributed to the New York Daily News, JazzTimes, Boston Phoenix, Harp, Mojo, Newsday, Billboard, and many other publications. He is the author of the book Got a Revolution: The Turbulent Flight of Jefferson Airplane and has contributed to The Guinness Companion to Popular Music, All Music Guide, and several other encyclopedias. He has also served as a consultant to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, NARAS, National Geographic Online, and Music Club Records.