Eddie PalmieriJazz, Salsa | 2010
A longtime Queens resident, Eddie Palmieri has a musical career that spans over 50 years as a bandleader of both salsa and Latin jazz orchestras. Born in Spanish Harlem in 1936, Palmieri began piano studies at an early age, as did his celebrated older brother, the late salsa legend and pianist Charlie Palmieri. At age 11, Eddie Palmieri auditioned at Weil Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and joined his uncle’s orchestra at 13, where he played timbales. He began his professional career as a pianist in the early 1950s with Eddie Forrester’s orchestra. In 1961, he formed his own band, La Perfecta, which featured an unconventional front line of trombones rather than the trumpets customary in Latin orchestras. Palmieri disbanded La Perfecta in 1968 to pursue different musical endeavors, though he would return to the band’s music in the 2000s. His 1970 release entitled Harlem River Drive was the first to merge what were categorized as “Black” and “Latin” music into a free-form sound that encompassed elements of salsa, funk, soul and jazz. In 1975, Palmieri won the first-ever Grammy for Best Latin Recording for The Sun of Latin Music (he’s won 10 Grammys altogether to date). Over the years, he has received many honors, including the Eubie Blake Award, the Chubb Fellowship Award from Yale University, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from Urban Latino Magaz. He was appointed to the Board of Governors of the New York chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences in 1993, and in 1995 he was instrumental in creating the new category for Latin Jazz.