The Young Lords

As we turn the corner to the early 1970’s, we find the subject of equality for all people much on the national mind. As many Puerto Ricans moved from New York to the midwest, systemic oppression on a neighborhood level was the norm. The Young Lords began in Chicago’s Lincoln Park area as a turf gang, and were reorganized as a national civil and Human rights organization, with chapters emerging in other cities. They sought self determination for Puerto Ricans, both on the island and here on the mainland, and expanded their program to include equality for all Latinos, including women in their 13 point Platform.

The New York chapter was headed by activist and poet Felipe Luciano, who can be heard at the start of the video below, as Eddie Palmieri takes the ‘stage’ at Rikers Island to demonstrate his solidarity and support for those incarcerated in a place that clearly demonstrates the systemic corruption and oppression of many Americans.


Established as a bandleader, composer, and player with Conjunto La Perfecta, Eddie Palmieri presses forward yet again. Immersed in the New York scene and seeking to infuse the music with new sounds, Palmieri begins a new phase, bringing elements of funk and soul into the mix. He recorded four albums under the Tico label, which were considered to be his finest work to date. It is the second release, Justicia, which marks a distinct turning point; social commentary and politics. We can see the seeds from the previous response to Mozambique, but now the message is more direct; lyrically pointed with calls for justice for Boricuas and African Americans and ending with a message of unity and brotherhood. It is here we see the breadth of Palmieri’s understanding of the history of captives and slaves, and the diaspora that spreads music to fuel hope. The album seems to have inspired others on the scene, notably Tony Pabón's La Protesta and Manny Oquendo's Conjunto Libre.

Justicia tendrán, justicia verán en el mundo y los que deseamos, recompensa ellos verán, no serán, no serán perjudicados. Si no hubiera tiranía, todos fuéramos hermanos, dulce paz y armonía, alegría tu lo verás... Justicia tendrán, justicia verán en el mundo y los que deseamos, recompensa mi tambo, oye mi tambo la justicia yo reclamo... hay cuando llegará la justicia.

Eddie & Cal are Cooking

With his Conjunto La Perfecta in peak form, Palmieri continued in the studio with the great Cal Tjader to follow up El Sonida Nuevo. This time the gloves are off with some serious cookers from both camps, notably the title track Bamboleate and Tjader’s Samba De Los Suenho. With bassist Bobby Rodriguez holding the groove and a sense of wild abandon in both the rhythm and the vocals, Bambeolate feels like a wild street party in a place you’d love to be. By bringing the best of Palmieri’s Salsa band and Tjader’s Latin Jazz sensibility, this album feels like a major crossover moment in the history of both, and one can imagine the sixties NYC crowd embracing it as they search for new sounds.

The Cuban Embargo

We are digging back into the incredible life of Eddie Palmieri as we prepare to release Mi Luz Mayor (tomorrow!). All along the way we find gems as Eddie progresses and continues to express fierce independence and musical curiosity, coupled with a steady desire to fuse elements of different cultures. In 1966 he released Mambo Con Conga Is Mozambique, bringing powerful Cuban Rhythms into the mix. According to Historia de la Salsa de Hiram Guadalupe Perez, some Cuban exiles opposed the album, as any warming of tension between the US and Cuba at the time was not acceptable to them. The album was supposedly listed as a ‘communist product’ by the US Government. Quite a distinction, and perhaps a precursor to social and political dialogue around his music.

Coming up next; more from Cal & Eddie and the progression towards Justicia.

Enter Cal Tjader

If you’re just joining us we are celebrating Eddie Palmieri all week as we prepare for the release of Mi Luz Mayor, his second Salsa album of 2018.

Conjunto La Perfecta continued to ignite the Charanga dance craze on ballroom floors through the sixties, with extra trombone power and Palmieri’s signature fourth chord sound. Like so many bands of that time one can see the changes in photographs of the band members; slowly the traditional suits and clean cut hair gave way to a loose look and full experimentation and creativity were the norm. The great Cal Tjader saw the band in New York and soon he and Eddie were in Rudy Van Gelder’s studio to record El Sonido Nuevo (The New Sound). The results again changed the landscape of Latin music and Latin Jazz, fusing them and breaking them open at the same time. The pair drew on the Cuban Mozambique dance rhythm for certain tracks, and Eddie drew on both the Cuban influence of Machito and the big band style of Glenn Miller.

Next Up - More Mozambique…

Conjunto La Perfecta

As a young man Eddie Palmieri learned from his brother Charlie, accompanying him at talent contests and gigs. He studied piano, and soon his time would come to perform in the dance halls with the great Tito Rodriguez. It might seem as though he was ready to follow the scene, but soon his innate curiosity and fierce vision began to emerge. In 1961 Palmieri started his first band featuring Ismael Quintana on vocals - Conjunto La Perfecta - foreshadowing his life’s quest for musical perfection. With Charanga as the dance craze of the time, he flipped the big band lineup by replacing violins with trombones, creating one of, if not the most innovative groups of the time. On the liner notes to the debut album, Charlie Palmieri dubbed the style ‘Trombanga’. This subtle but powerful change led a whole new movement as other bandleaders adopted the new sound. And yet, this is just the start of Eddie Palmieri’s experimentation.

Up next, the blending of style gets deep…

Saludando al maestro

EVERY DAY we are thankful that the great Eddie Palmieri has entrusted us with his recordings; albums that represent his continuous search for perfection in music. It began last year with the Latin Jazz classic Sabiduria, and continued in 2018 with Salsa albums Full Circle and Mi Luz Mayor. And so we salute Mr. Palmieri, with highlights from his career each day as we lead up to Friday’s release of Mi Luz Mayor. First, some history:

Born in 1936 in New York, Mr. Eddie Palmieri is a bandleader, arranger, and composer who has skillfully fused the rhythm of his Puerto Rican heritage with the complexity of his jazz influences. He gained international attention as a pianist in the 1950’s, playing with Eddie Forrester and the popular Tito Rodriguez Orchestra, among others. In 1961 he formed La Perfecta, featuring an unconventional front line of trombones that created a new sound, mixing American Jazz into Afro-Caribbean rhythms and leading to the trombone-heavy Salsa explosion in the 1970s.

Throughout the 60s and 70s Mr. Palmieri continued to surprise fans and critics with his unique sound – in 1970 he released the epic ‘Harlem River Drive’, merging Black and Latin music into a free-form sound that seamlessly blends elements of funk, soul, rock, salsa, and jazz. In 1975 Mr. Palmieri was awarded the very first Grammy for Best Latin Recording; this would be the first of ten Grammys over the next 30 years. His lyrics and arranging style have influenced countless musicians from a diverse array of settings, including Chick Corea, Ruben Blades, Willie Colon and the Fania All Stars, Christian McBride, and hip hop pioneer Bobbito Garcia.