If there is one element that defines the prodigious discography of salsa anarchist Eddie Palmieri, that would be his reckless appetite for experimentation. ...MORE >
If there is one element that defines the prodigious discography of salsa anarchist Eddie Palmieri, that would be his reckless appetite for experimentation.
From his beginnings with the legendary La Perfecta orchestra to the ambitious concept albums of the '70s, the Latin jazz workouts of the '90s and his triumphant return to salsa in the new millennium, Eddie Palmieri toyed listlessly with genre conventions. He added jarring touches of dissonance to traditional Cuban formats and borrowed liberally from rock, funk, Puerto Rican folk, jazz and psychedelia. Unlike his older brother Charlie, whose elegant arrangements mirrored the old fashioned restraint of Noro Morales, Eddie's adventurous aesthetic suggests the Afro-Caribbean equivalent of a Jimi Hendrix.
"Recorded Live At Sing Sing" is one of Eddie's most openly psychedelic albums. Seeped in deep layers of acid soul, it finds the Nuyorican keyboardist showcasing the same defiant sociopolitical stance that he had introduced in previous Tico albums such as Justicia and Vámonos Pa'l Monte. In 1972, Eddie decided to bring his tropical jams to the downtrodden of the Earth by recording a two-LP set at the Sing Sing correctional facility.
Even today, the electricity in the air is palpable in these old tapes, and the inherent limitations of the original recording generate an ambiance of roughness that has aged particularly well.
By the time he recorded this concert, Palmieri had left behind the trombone heavy sound of La Perfecta in favor of a more explosive conjunto. The band here includes the ragged vocalizing of Ismael Quintana; a guest spot from Charlie Palmieri on organ; a fiery brass section of trumpet, trombone and sax; the stellar presence of brothers Andy and Jerry González on bass and percussion respectively; as well as the addition of electric guitars and drums, the Harlem River Drive Singers and even Felipe Luciano reciting his (admittedly dated) bits of passionate Nuyorican poetry.
The opening track is pure adrenaline. An energetic Joe Gaines introduces the band, which launches into a savage version of "Pa La Ochá Tambó". The gutsy chorus, hace tiempo que vengo sonando el tambor (It's been a long time/Since I've been playing the drum) locks on one of Palmieri's typically solid grooves. The keyboardist then launches into a shimmering, spaced-out electric piano solo that would feel right at home in a Pink Floyd record.
"V.P. Blues" is equally epic, including combinations of Charlie's organ and Eddie's piano that are not for the faint of heart. Notice the rock solid pattern performed by the rhythm section when the brass instruments take the spotlight with their solos. The effect is funky and hypnotic.
A saucy guaracha, "Muñeca" was originally included on the La Perfecta record Lo Que Traigo Es Sabroso. Ismael Quintana is on fire in this revised version - it's easy to see why he is still regarded as one of the finest soneros in the Afro-Cuban landscape.
The first recorded part of this monumental concert concludes with a lengthy version of "Azúcar" that emphasizes the R&B aspects of Palmieri's sonic stew. A quintessential salsa anthem, "Azúcar" achieves a strange paradox: it is danceable and accessible, but also extremely sophisticated.
This may be the key to understanding Palmieri's longevity. Against all odds, he combined art with commerce, releasing records that were uncompromising in their quality and vision and kept the dancers happy at the same time.
Palmieri's concept - taking progressive salsa to jail - was brilliant. Fortunately, his artistic bravado was preserved for posterity on "Recorded Live At Sing Sing," one of the most idiosyncratic albums in the annals of tropical music.
Written by Ernesto Lechner
Eddie Palmieri – Leader & Piano
Ray Maldonado – Trumpet
José Rodrigues – Trombone
Ronnie Cuber – Sax
Harry Viggiano – Guitar
Andy González – Bass
Ray Romero – Conga
Jerry González – Percussion
Charlie Santiago – Timbales
Nick Marrero – Bongo
Reggie Barnes – Drums
Hank Anderson – Fender Bass
Cornell Dupree – Guitar
Vocals and Chorus – Ismael Quintana, Arturo Campa, Arturo Franquiz
Special Invited Guests
Charlie Palmieri – Organ
Jimmy Norman And The Harlem River Drive Singers with Lorene Hanchard & Alvin Taylor
Felipe Luciano – Poet
Joe Gaines – Master Of Ceremony (WEVD)
Paquito Navarro – Master Of Ceremony (WHOM)
José Chequi Torres – N.Y. Post
Chavetita and Pirigón – Comedians
Produced and Supervised by - Joe Cain
Recording Engineer - Vicente Cartagena
Re-Mix – Tony May
Original Album Design and Art Director – Izzy Sanabria
Original Cover Photography – Roberto Schneider
Original Photography – Norm B. Gardner, Emilio García Jr.
Original Graphic Design – General Illusions
Production Assistant – Marilyn S. Rivera
(Ossing Correctional Facility)
J. Leland Casscles (Supt.)
George McGrath/Walter Bravato
Ray Avilés/Víctor Paz
Alfredo Armenteros/Bobby Hertz
José Guzmán/Lockie Edwards
& Morris Levy – Pres. Roulette Records LESS >