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Eddie Palmieri Performs a Historic Trio Concert to Mark 40 Years of WBGO's Latin Jazz Cruise

Pianist, composer and bandleader Eddie Palmieri at the Yamaha Piano Salon, in a trio performance to celebrate the 40th anniversary of WBGO's Latin Jazz Cruise.

The arc of Eddie Palmieri’s career is profound. A pianist, composer, arranger and bandleader; 10-time Grammy winner (including a Lifetime Achievement Latin Grammy); and as an NEA Jazz Master, a recipient of the nation’s highest award given to a living jazz musician, Palmieri is a true legend.

Tune in this Friday at 9 p.m. ET as he celebrates the 40th anniversary of WBGO’s Latin Jazz Cruise with a special concert from the Yamaha Piano Salon. (Add to your calendar)

Credit Roberto Jose Sanabria
Bobby Sanabria, Eddie Palmieri and Luques Curtis at the Yamaha Piano Salon.

As host of the show, I’ll interview “El Rumbero Del Piano” about his career — and Maestro Palmieri will perform in a trio setting (something he’s never done before) alongside Luques Curtis on bass and yours truly on drums. We’ve talked about doing this for years, and to have it happen now, as a celebration of this show’s incredible history, is only fitting.

A native Nuyorican raised in the South Bronx, Eddie’s first inspirations were his older brother, virtuoso pianist Charlie Palmieri, and timbalero-bandleader Tito Puente. (Among his boyhood friends was Ray Barretto, the conguero and fellow future NEA Jazz Master.) Subsequent work with vocalist Tito Rodriguez established him as a force of nature. In 1962, Palmieri’s band La Perfecta revolutionized salsa with an unprecedented frontline of flute and two trombones, featuring fellow Bronxite and creator of the NYC Salsa power trombone sound, Barry Rogers.

Palmieri also perfected a unique style where he was be able to play a montuno (a repetitive arpeggiated piano figure) with his left hand while improvising with his right hand, thus sounding like two pianists. Influenced by McCoy Tyner, Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans and Lennie Tristano alongside brother Charlie, Maestro Palmieri is often imitated but never duplicated — a fact that will only be confirmed during this historic performance.

Bobby Sanabria is an eight time Grammy-nominee as a leader, drummer, percussionist, composer, arranger, conductor, documentary film producer, educator, activist, and bandleader. A native son of the South Bronx born to Puerto Rican parents, he has performed and recorded with such legends as Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaría, Dizzy Gillespie, Chico O’Farrill, Ray Barretto, Cándido, Henry Threadgill, Larry Harlow, and the Godfather of Afro-Cuban jazz, Mario Bauzá.