The Washington Post

King of The Keys


Pianist Eddie Palmieri pounds the keys so hard he’s called “The Piano Breaker Man.” Born in Spanish Harlem to Puerto Rican parents in 1936, he became a fixture of the New York Latin music scene in the 1960s and 1970s, cross-pollinating all the sounds of the borough: not just rock and funk, but cumbia, bomba and, most significantly, salsa. Listen for it all when he plays Saturday at the Kennedy Center.

‘El Sonido Nuevo: The New Soul Sound’ (1966) Palmieri teamed with Swedish-American vibraphonist Cal Tjader for this experimental LP. With a cover of Alan Lerner’s “On a Clear Day (You Can See Forever),” the album showed the versatility of Latin jazz.

‘The Sun of Latin Music’ (1973) This landmark record showcases Palmieri’s sophisticated arrangements (not to mention impressive vocals by then-16-year-old Lalo Rodriguez).

‘Unfinished Masterpiece’ (1974) Palmieri set out to explore African rhythms in salsa and jazz but abandoned the project midway, leaving his band and producer to finish the project.

‘Live!’ (1999) On this LP recorded at the Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture in the Bronx, Palmieri leads a large Latin band through wild salsas and guajiros, his mad-scientist spark still bright.

Kennedy Center, 2700 F St. NW; Sat., 7:30 p.m. (sold out), 9:30 p.m., $35; 202-467-4600. (Foggy Bottom) 



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