Photo credit: Erik Valind

Join 92Y in this one-night-only 80th-birthday celebration of Eddie Palmieri, one of the most innovative and ebullient figures in American music and an icon of jazz.

Born on December 15, 1936, in Spanish Harlem and raised in the Bronx, Eddie Palmieri is a foremost pianist of salsa and Latin Jazz, as well as bandleader, arranger and composer. He created a new sound by fusing rhythms of his Puerto Rican heritage with the complexity of American jazz, and he was named an NEA Jazz Master in 2013. A ten-time Grammy Award winner, in 1975 Eddie won the first-ever Grammy Award for Best Latin Recording for his The Sun of Latin Music.

Eddie Palmieri, leader and piano   
Afro-Caribbean Jazz Octet 
     Conrad Herwig – Trombone
     Jonathan Powell – Trumpet
     Louis Fouche – Alto Saxophone
     Vicente "Little Johnny" Rivero – Congas
     Nicholas Marrero – Bongo, Timbalitos
     Luques Curtis – Bass
     Camilo Molina – Timbales

► Eddie Palmieri gives an NPR Tiny Desk Concert, Aug 18, 2016

► Afro-Caribbean Jazz Octet performs at 2012 River to River Festival

92Y Interview with Eddie Palmieri (from 92Y concert program book, 12/6/10)

Explore the Music

(Click the names below to expand info.)

Welcome from the 92Y Director

Dear Friends,

We here at 92Y are so honored to have the privilege to celebrate Eddie Palmieri’s round birthday on his birthdate, with him and his music in our hall.

The always-irrepressible Eddie is one of the true pioneers of Latin Jazz. Taking his lead from the likes of Machito, Tito Puente and Tito Rodriguez, he melded the sounds of Africa, the Caribbean and New York to create something thrilling and totally new. Eddie’s accolades as composer, bandleader and pianist affirm his place as a foremost innovator in American music: ten Grammy Awards including one for Lifetime Achievement; inclusion in the collections and archives of the Smithsonian Institute and Library of Congress, and his 2013 induction as an NEA Jazz Master, our nation’s highest honor for jazz artists.

For all his awards, Eddie remains one of the most genial and exuberant artists performing today, whose unalloyed love for life and his music invigorates all who see and hear him. Happy Birthday Eddie! May we have many more celebrations with you and your music!!!


Hanna Arie-Gaifman
Director, 92Y Tisch Center for the Arts

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Eddie Palmieri – An Appreciation

By Brian Lynch

The cliche would go: “At the age of 80, Eddie Palmieri shows no signs of slowing down,” but in point of fact, not only does Maestro Palmieri fulfill this well-worn trope but brilliantly exceeds it in every way! Entering his ninth decade, this true American icon (or better put: icon of the Americas) is epically busy: prolifically composing new works, constantly in the recording studio, and mentoring a whole new generation of young stars in his bands while maintaining a touring schedule that would fell a man half his age. And his piano sorcery achieves the seemingly impossible by getting even stronger, deeper and more mesmerizing. Eddie is the exemplar of his own philosophy for the “golden years”: to “extend maturity and resist decline.”

Eddie has changed music a number of times; with the mix of classic Cuban music roots and quintessential New York sensibility that produced the magical La Perfecta; achieving the apotheosis of Latin music in the salsa era with recordings like The Sun of Latin Music and La Verdad, showing the way for the ultimate New York fusion with Harlem River Drive, and forging a new path for “instrumental mambo” (Latin Jazz) with the Jazz Messengers-meets-Palmieri concept of the Afro-Caribbean Jazz Octet. And he’s far from finished! I invite you to follow the Maestro closely in the next years to witness and hear with delight the concoctions chef Palmieri is cooking up in his “test kitchen of the Americas.” He is embracing the new technology and the transformed modes of engagement between artist and audience unleashed by it, and I confidently predict that he will change music and enchant new audiences yet again in this coming decade!

After almost 30 years of life on Planet Palmieri, as sideman, acolyte, collaborator and, most importantly, friend, I salute the Maestro on this most auspicious milestone, and thank the gods for every day that I’ve known him, past, present and future. I’m sure you all feel this gratitude for the gift that he’s given all of us with his music. Bravo, Eddie, and Happy 80th!

Photo: CD cover of The Brian Lynch/Eddie Palmieri Project: Simpático, which won the 2007 Grammy Award for Best Latin Jazz Album

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Artist Bios

Eddie Palmieri, leader & piano

Born on December 15, 1936, NEA Jazz Master and 10-time Grammy Award winner Eddie Palmieri is hailed as one of the finest pianists of the past 60 years and celebrated as a bandleader, arranger and composer of salsa and Latin jazz. His playing skillfully fuses the rhythm of his Puerto Rican heritage with the complexity of his jazz influences: Thelonious Monk, Herbie Hancock and McCoy Tyner as well as his older brother, Charlie Palmieri.

Mr. Palmieri’s parents emigrated from Ponce, Puerto Rico, to New York City in 1926. He was born in Spanish Harlem and raised in the Bronx, where he learned to play the piano at an early age before joining his uncle’s orchestra, playing timbales, at age 13. His professional career as a pianist took off with various bands in the early 1950s, including those of Eddie Forrester, Johnny Segui and Tito Rodriguez. In 1961, Mr. Palmieri formed his own band, La Perfecta, which featured an unconventional front line of trombones rather than the trumpets customary in Latin orchestras. This created an innovative sound that mixed American jazz into Afro-Caribbean rhythms, surprising critics and fans alike. The eponymous recording, released in 1962 on the Alegre label, launched a Palmieri discography that would grow to more than 50 albums and earn ten Grammy Awards.

Among his other recordings, Mr. Palmieri’s 1970 Harlem River Drive was the first to merge what were categorized as “Black” and “Latin” music into a free-form sound that encompassed elements of salsa, funk, soul and jazz. In 1975 he won his first Grammy Award for The Sun of Latin Music the first award given in the new category, Best Latin Recording. In 1988 the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History recorded two of Mr. Palmieri’s performances for its archives. In 2009 the Library of Congress added his “Azucar Pa’ Ti” to the National Recording Registry; the widely popular 8 ½-minute work had broken the 3 1/2-minute barrier previously imposed by the recording industry.

In 2012 Mr. Palmieri wrote the soundtrack for the documentary Doin it in the Park, an exploration of the culture of pick-up basketball in New York City. The soundtrack was released in 2013, and songs from the film will be included in Mr. Palmieri’s upcoming full-length recording, Sabiduria, a fusion of Jazz, funk, Latin and Afro-world rhythms. In 2015 he released a new Big Band version of his classic composition, “Vámonos P’al Monte,” and he recorded a Big Band album Mi Luz Mayor, which featured Carlos Santana and Gilberto Santa Rosa, for future release. This past fall he recorded seven classic songs that will be included in an interactive audio app available in 2017.

In 2013 Mr. Palmieri received two of the most distinguished honors in his field: he was named a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts; and he was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences. Jazz at Lincoln Center will honor his 80th birthday by with two concerts on March 4 and 5, 2017. His website is

Photo: Erik Valind

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Luques Curtis, bass player

Winner of the 2016 Downbeat Critics Choice “Rising Star” Award, bass player Luques Curtis was born in Hartford and began studying the piano and percussion. He later switched to bass, and while in high school he studied the Afro-Caribbean genre with bass greats Andy González and Joe Santiago. He earned a full scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston, and he has since played and/or toured with Gary Burton, Ralph Peterson and Donald Harrison. Mr. Curtis can be heard on Eddie Palmieri and Brian Lynch’s Grammy Award-winning CD, Simpatico, and Christian Scott’s Grammy-nominated Rewind That. He also plays with his brother Zaccai Curtis, and they co-own a record label, Truth Revolution Records. Together they have made three releases, the most recent being Completion of Proof. His website is

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Louis Fouché, alto saxophone

Alto saxophonist Louis Fouché comes from a family of music lovers, and when he was 12 years old he was inspired to learn the tenor saxophone after hearing Stanley Turrentine for the first time. That same summer he traveled from his hometown of Mountain Top, Pennsylvania, to New Orleans, where his grandfather enrolled him at the Louis Armstrong Summer Jazz Camp, which cemented his passion for music. Since then he has toured globally with Eddie Palmieri, Christian Scott, Jonathan Batiste, George Porter, Jr., and others. As a bandleader, his debut album, Subjective Mind, was the No. 1 new jazz album on Mr. Fouché also has degrees in physics and chemical engineering from MIT, where he developed an online science enrichment program for high school seniors from underrepresented backgrounds. His website is

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Conrad Herwig, trombone

Jazz trombonist Conrad Herwig has recorded 24 albums as a leader. His latest release is The Latin Side of Joe Henderson (Half Note; 2014), part of a project that includes The Latin Side of Wayne Shorter (Half Note; 2008), Another Kind of Blue: The Latin Side of Miles Davis (Half Note; 2004) and The Latin Side of John Coltrane (Astor Place; 1996); each recording received a Grammy Award nomination. As a sideman, Mr. Herwig has been featured with the Joe Henderson Sextet, Horace Silver Octet, Tom Harrell’s Septet and Big Band, the Joe Lovano Nonet (where he was a soloist on the Grammy Award-winning 52nd St Themes), and the Mingus Big Band (where he was musical director and arranger for the Grammy-nominated Live at the Tokyo Blue Note). His website is

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Nicholas Marrero, bongo & timbalitos

Nicky Marrero, an award-winning and legendary Latin percussionist, started at the age of 14 with Orchestra Caribe. Throughout his career he has played and recorded with such Latin and Latin Jazz leaders as Eddie Palmieri, Larry Harlow, Machito, and the Fania All-Stars, as well as jazz and rock greats such as Dizzy Gillespie, Santana, David Amram, Steely Dan, Bill Withers, Airto and Flora Moreira, Wynton Marsalis, Chico O'Farrill, Billy Cobham, Stevie Wonder, Manu Dibango, Average White Band, George Benson and Xavier Cugat, among many, many others. He recently was awarded the 2016 Hispanic Heritage Arts Award as a member of the Fania All Stars.

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Camilo Molina, timbales

Percussionist Camilo Ernesto Molina Gaetán began studying music at the age of two with the children’s workshop of Los Pleneros de la 21, a community based group dedicated to playing folkloric Puerto Rican music, where he is now a teacher. At the age of ten he was named third-prize winner of the Thelonious Monk International Afro-Latin Hand Drum Competition, and he went on to graduate from The Juilliard School under the MAP/PATH programs. Mr. Molina has performed and recorded with such artists as Santana, Ricky Martin, Frankie Negrón, Miguel Zenón, Elio Villafranca and Teatro Pregones. He can be heard on three Grammy Award-nominated albums — Eddie Palmieri’s Rumbero de Piano, Los Pleneros de la 21’s Para Todos Ustedes and Papo Vazquez’s Marooned/Aislado — as well as the Emmy Award-winning documentary, Sonó, Sonó, Tité Curet.

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Jonathan Powell, trumpet

Originally from Largo, Florida, Jonathan Powell began playing trumpet at age eleven, inspired by Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Hubbard and Miles Davis. He moved to New York and in 2009 was named The Latin Jazz Corner’s Best Latin Jazz Trumpet Player. He can be heard on recent Grammy Award-winning recordings of Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, and he has worked with DJ Premier, Miguel Zenón, Henry Cole, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Bob Mintzer, The WDR Big Band, Snoop Dogg and many others. As a composer, Mr. Powell incorporates many elements into his work, including Jazz, Latin, hip hop, death metal and both North Indian and 20th-century classical music. These influences are heard on his band nu Sangha’s debut album, Transcend, and its latest recording, Beacons of Light. His website is

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Vicente “Little Johnny” Rivero, congas

Vicente “Little Johnny” Rivero was born in New York City, then moved to Puerto Rico with his parents, where he played with the legendary salsa ensemble La Sonora Ponceña for 16 years, touring the world and making 16 CDs. When he’s not performing or touring with Eddie Palmieri, he performs in studio sessions with such Latin and jazz artists as Papo Lucca, Brian Lynch, Phil Woods, Dave Valentin, Bebo Valdés, Dr. Lonnie Smith and Paquito D’Rivera. He also leads his own band and has released two solo albums: Pasos Gigantes and Music in Me, which has been hailed for delivering a Latin Jazz grove with underpinning of traditional Afro- Cuban percussion and rhythms, and which has been placed on the Official Ballot for the 59th Grammys Awards for Best Latin Jazz Album. His website is

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Individuals who have participated in 92nd Street Y programs over the past year in selected program areas, participants in certain memberships, and those who have made contributions of $500 or more to 92Y, are eligible to register for programs before they become available to the general public.

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