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Famed pianist and composer Eddie Palmieri won nine Grammy Awards throughout his career, for albums like The Sun of Latin Music, Solito and Masterpiece.
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Born in New York City on December 15, 1936, Eddie Palmieri began playing piano at Carnegie Hall when he was 11 years old. In 1961, he started his first band, Conjunta La Perfecta. His brother, pianist Charlie Palmieri, dubbed their style "trombanga" since they used trombones to make the traditional "charanga" sound. Palmieri won nine Grammy Awards throughout his career, for albums like The Sun of Latin Music (1974),
"I was raised in the Bronx, and from one end to the other there were social clubs that are now known as gangs. I was quite fortunate in my mother's insistence that my brother and I learn piano and I had no choice in the matter, even though I tried to rebel."
"By 15, it was good-bye timbales and back to the piano until this day. I'm a frustrated percussionist, so I take it out on the piano." (On his short-lived drumming career.)
Solito (1985) and Masterpiece (2000).
Musician. Born December 15, 1936, in Harlem, New York, to Puerto Rican immigrants. His father, Carlos, was a radio and television repairman who ran a luncheonette called El Mambo, and his mother, Isabel, was a seamstress. Palmieri's family was also very musical: his grandmother sang, his uncles played guitar, and his brother attended the Juilliard School for music. The family encouraged Eddie and his older brother, Charlie, to begin piano lessons as young boys. "I was raised in the Bronx, and from one end to the other there were social clubs that are now known as gangs," Palmieri explains. "I was quite fortunate in my mother's insistence that my brother and I learn piano and I had no choice in the matter, even though I tried to rebel."
Eddie felt inspired to practice and perform publicly when he began watching Charlie, who was nine years older, play out with talented musicians. He also started hearing the music Charlie played at home, which exposed him to the music of jazz greats including pianists such as Thelonius Monk, Bud Powell, Bill Evans, and McCoy Tyner. When Eddie was only five years old, he started entering and winning talent competitions with Charlie.
At the age of 11, Palmieri auditioned to perform classical piano at Carnegie Hall, and made his debut at the famous venue that year. Two years later, though, he became infatuated with the drums. He quit playing piano, and at the age of 13 he joined his uncle's Latin jazz orchestra to play the timbales. The love of drums, however, was short-lived: "By 15, it was good-bye timbales and back to the piano until this day," Palmieri later told reporters. "I'm a frustrated percussionist, so I take it out on the piano.
Charlie, who earned himself the nickname of "The Giant of the Keyboards," became instrumental in launching Eddie's career, often recommending his brother to other musicians who needed a sub for their bands. In 1955, Palmieri got his first professional gig with bass player Johnny Segui. A year later he was playing with Vincentico Valdez, the vocalist for legendary bandleader, Tito Puente. After two years with Valdez, Palmieri was recommended to Latin jazz musician, Tito Rodriguez. By late 1961, Eddie Palmieri started his own band, Conjunta La Perfecta.
La Perfecta featured a unique instrumentation of trombones and flutes instead of trumpets. Palmieri also experimented by fusing jazz and Latin-style music, and adding a bassist as well as a vocalist.
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