Lucid Culture


Newly Minted NEA Jazz Master Eddie Palmieri at SOB’s This Friday

Eddie Palmieri is one of those artists that you assume has won every accolade. On one hand, the news that the salsa jazz piano icon been named a NEA Jazz Master isn’t going to surprise anybody, unless you thought that he would have received the honor years if not decades ago. So now that he’s got one to go with all his Grammies (nine at last count), you don’t have to wait for a fancy convertible to drive down from Spanish Harlem blasting one of his songs (true story, something that probably happens a lot in Manhattan): Palmieri and band are at SOB’s this Friday, August 3 to celebrate, with two sets at 9 and 11. After that, the onetime teenage timbalero who switched to piano and actually looked back on that choice – “I’m a frustrated percussionist,” he admits – is off to the Hollywood Bowl and then the Monterey Jazz Festival. If you can’t make the concert, you can still hear him on Leonard Lopate’s show on WNYC at 40 minutes past noon this Friday.

July 30, 2012 Posted by | concert, jazz, latin music, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Michel Camilo’s Mano a Mano – One of the Year’s Best

It wouldn’t be fair to let the year go by without mentioning Michel Camilo’s elegant, urbane, soulful Spanish Caribbean jazz trio album Mano a Mano: after all, our “best jazz albums” list is coming up and this will be on it. It’s an intimate performance, the Dominican pianist with his longtime bandmate Charles Flores on bass and Giovanni Hidalgo on congas. Camilo’s been an interesting player for a long time, a classical concert pianist with roots in Afro-Cuban music and equal virtuosity in the American jazz songbook. How he blends these genres here is just as emotionally impactful as it is cerebral – and subtle. In a lot of ways, it’s a clinic in restraint and making notes count, exemplified by a brightly straightforward cover of Trane’s Naima; the other cover here, Lee Morgan’s The Sidewinder is a lot more syncretic, done as bachata jazz with Camilo bringing in a little Professor Longhair before Hidalgo exercises his own remarkable restraint on the smaller set of drums that Camilo talked him into using on this session to enhance the up-close ambience.

The opening track, Yes, coalesces gradually but matter-of-factly, Camilo’s spacious block chords mingling with Hidalgo’s insistent breaks. The real stunner here is Then and Now, a beautiful, intense, slow bolero featuring a plaintive bowed bass solo over the first verse, Camilo echoing Satie and playing major on minor for all it’s worth with an eerie glimmer. Camilo also gives the Cuban standard Alfonsina y El Mar a similarly intense, brooding treatment, winding out with a judiciously chromatic iciness. By contrast, the title track is a scurrying, cascading, Monty Alexander-ish romp with a nimbly pointillistic solo by Flores. There’s also You and Me, pop ballad with bite and a slinky Cuban groove; Rice and Beans, which welds Oscar Peterson purist bluesiness to a graceful Cuban dance vamp; and No Left Turn, which serves as sort of a reprise. Camilo covers an awful lot of ground here, from hypnotic salsa grooves to poignant melodicism, with a dash of knotty postbop improvisation and makes it all seem as if it was all meant to fit together in the first place.

December 4, 2011 Posted by | jazz, latin music, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment