Santana jamming with that little tart Michelle Branch is cool and all, but no discussion of the interface between Latin music and American
pop is complete without bowing before Eddie Palmieri. The pianist and
bandleader has gotta be the reason why lonely suburbanites try to pick
each other up at their weekly salsa lessons. Palmieri has released a
gazillion records since the early '60s; his 2007 disc with trumpeter
Brian Lynch, titled Simpático, fetched him yet another Grammy. For the
uninitiated, however, check out the 1967 chestnut Molasses. Its
horn-laden fusion of jazz, salsa, soul, and boogaloo (the auxiliary
percussion on "Bomboncito de Pozo" will slay you) helped establish a
cultural identity for Puerto Rican musicians in the '70s. Granted,
Branch ain't on it, but it's still a funky jam.
JUSTIN F. FARRAR
Listen to a sample of Eddie Palmieri Latin Jazz Band's "In Flight."
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