Thursday, December 15, 2016

Eighty Palmieri

I return with a Salsa Special to honor an absolute giant of the genre, turning a milestone 80 today.
He's been doing it since the advent of the 1960s and you can still catch him live, touring globally. He and his brother Charlie are probably the greatest living ambassadors of Latin Music currently on Earth.
His early 1970s LPs cook with a fire typically seen on the Sun, and are never far from my personal platter playlistings. Starting with Justicia in 1970, through the long outta print 1972 live records I am posting here today, he had a run of seminal excellence that rivals the Stevie Wonders and Marvin Gayes of the same time frame.
It's no exaggeration to say that Eddie Palmieri is possibly the most beloved musician ever to come out of Puerto Rico, that's for sure. But even if he had come from Pluto, there can be no denying that the modern Salsa sound rests on a foundation of which he is a central pillar.
And then there's this band he created back in the day. As smokin' an ensemble ever to play this music, Eddie's Harlem River Drive group diversified things, really stirring in the heaping helpings of soul and funk that blew the doors off what had gone before. That 1971 LP is surely a Desert Island Disc for a lotta folks, me included... and then they played a supermax prison.
The two records that their gig at Sing Sing Correctional Facility in upstate New York produced make the studio album they made seem tame, let's just say. And let's just say that the audience of inmates responded to their set with a high degree of enthusiasm. How they didn't burn the place down, I have no idea.
Those records got reissued on the Tico label in 1994 and as far as I can tell have not been seen since... a while back I bought a bootleg Italian CD of Volume One and it was a dodgy vinyl transfer!! Thankfully I have both volumes on the original Tico CD issues and was able to very slightly remaster them to adjust the differing loudnesses, which diverged a bit between the two. These burn with the fire of twelve galaxies and I advise playin' em good and loud.
Eddie Palmieri & Harlem River Drive
"Live At Sing Sing, vols. 1 & 2"
Sing Sing Correctional Facility
Ossining, NY

vol. 1
01 intro/Pa La Ocha Tambo
02 V.P. Blues
03 Muñeca (new version)
04 Jibaro, My Pretty Nigger
05 Azucar (part 2 and part 3)

vol. 2
01 intro
02 Vamonos Pal Monte
03 Calle De La Vera Cruz
04 Mi Mujer Espiritual
05 intro
06 Somebody's Sons
07 Un Rifle Oracion (A Rifle, A Prayer)
08 17.1

Total time: 1:28:53

Andy Gonzalez - bass
Hank Anderson - Fender bass
Nicky Marrero - bongo drums
Ray Romero - congas
Reggie Barnes - drums
Cornell Dupree - guitar
Harry Viggiano - guitar
Charlie Palmieri - organ
Jerry Gonzalez - percussion
Eddie Palmieri - piano & electric piano
Ronnie Cuber - saxophones
Charlie Santiago - timbales
Jose Rodriguez - trombone
Ray Maldonado - trumpet
Alvin Taylor, Lorene Hanchard - vocals
Arturo Campa, Arturo Franquiz, Ismael Quintana - chorus vocals
Felipe Luciano & Paquito Navarro - spoken word
Joe Gaines - stage introductions

out-of-print CDs on the Tico label, slightly remastered by EN
These are among the seminal Salsa recordings ever made, especially in the concert context, so I'd advise not missing out on them. As you enjoy them, please remember to honor their creator, born this day in 1936 and showing no signs of slowing. Happy 80th, Maestro Eddie Palmieri!!--J.