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Eddie Palmieri On His October Residency At The Blue Note In New York, Working With Carlos Santana, And Hobbies

A Grammy Award-winning pianist, bandleader, musician, and composer, Eddie Palmieri is the founder of the bands La Perfecta, La Perfecta II, and Harlem River Drive. In 1975, Palmieri won his first Grammy Award for Best Latin Recording. More Grammys would follow for Palmieri — his total is currently at 10 — as his Masterpiece recording with Tito Puente alone won two awards.

Palmieri has also been recognized as Outstanding Producer of the Year by the National Foundation of Popular Culture, beyond receiving the Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences Lifetime Achievement Award and a National Endowment For The Arts Jazz Master; his song “Azucar Pa’ Ti” is now part of the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress.

Eddie Palmieri has not slowed down in recent years, as he released Eddie Palmieri Is Doin’ It in the Park in 2013 and a new album earlier this year, Sabiduría. In support of Sabiduría, Palmieri will be playing six nights at the Blue Note in New York later this month, October 10 through October 15. To learn more about that Blue Note residency and what else Palmieri has coming up — spoiler alert: Carlos Santana is involved — I spoke to the Latin jazz legend for the Inquisitr. More on Eddie Palmieri can be found online at www.palmierimusic.com.

Sixty-plus years into your career, is there an accomplishment you are most proud of?

Eddie Palmieri: I would say my biggest accomplishment is my longevity in this very difficult business.

Having won 10 Grammys, did you find that winning a Grammy changed your life much?

Eddie Palmieri: Years ago, Grammys, in my estimation, were much more beneficial in the career of artists. In truth, it gave you more recognition worldwide and extra cache in the recording industry and with your peers.

Next month you will be playing six nights at the Blue Note in New York. When did you first play a Blue Note club?

Eddie Palmieri: I was blessed to be asked and perform at the Blue Note since the early 90’s. Next week should be another musical oxygen cocktail.

Why play six nights at one club instead of one at a larger or theater-size venue? Is it because you prefer intimate crowds?

Eddie Palmieri: Personally, I do prefer intimate settings worldwide, but I am blessed to perform in larger venues around the world. In South America, my orchestra usually plays in front of 40,000 people.

For someone thinking of coming to one of your Blue Note shows, what will you be performing? Or are your setlists somewhat improvised?

Eddie Palmieri: My Afro-Caribbean Jazz Sextet will be performing high-octane Latin jazz with many improvised solos.

Besides your Blue Note run, what is coming up for you?

Eddie Palmieri: The next few months we will be traveling throughout North America in support of my latest CD, Sabiduria, on Ropeadope Records.

What sort of warm-ups do you do before going on-stage?

Eddie Palmieri: I always do yoga before I play to stretch out my spinal column.

Is there a musician that you are still hoping to collaborate or work with?

Eddie Palmieri: I have blessed to perform with many many great artists in the bandstand and in the recording studio. Recently, I met Carlos Santana in the studio and the project will be out next year entitled Mi Luz Mayor — a big band salsa album.

When not busy with music, how do you like to spend your free time? Any surprising hobbies?

Eddie Palmieri: I always love to read, and my favorite subjects are history of the Americas and philosophy books.

You recorded a few songs for the documentary Doin’ It in the Park: Pickup Basketball NYC. Have you always been a big fan of basketball?

Eddie Palmieri: Basketball had always intrigued me and when Bobbito and Kevin Couleau asked me to participate in their project, it was my complete honor.

Finally, Eddie, any last words for the kids?

Eddie Palmieri: My advice to the young musical students is that this is not guesswork! You must study and develop your own personal faculties to advance your own musical signature.

[Featured Image by Gina Tolentino]