Eddie Palmieri “Sabiduría / Wisdom” Review


Wisdom is the quality of having experience knowledge and good judgment. Through a 62-year career in Latin music, Eddie Palmieri has accumulated all of those elements and recorded them into the album “Sabiduría / Wisdom”.

Palmieri Musicians From Past and Present

Eddie Palmieri with piano in "Sabiduría"
Eddie Palmieri recorded “Sabiduría” with musicians he has collaborated through his 62-year career in Latin music.

“Sabiduría” includes musicians that currently perform with Eddie Palmieri regularly as well as others that have played with him in the past.

“Little” Johnny Rivero (congas) and Luques Curtis (bass) have been working regularly with Palmieri for at least 10 years now. Alfredo de la Fe is from his 70’s band as are Bernard “Pretty” Purdie (drums) and Ronnie Cuber (saxophone). However, these last two were from the experimental album “Harlem River Drive” (1971). Anthony Carrillo (bongo) was part of Palmieri’s band in Puerto Rico in the 80’s. Finally, Donald Harrison toured with Palmieri in the 90’s.

“Sabiduría” Songs Crafted Through a Long Career

The songs in “Sabiduría” seem to come from Eddie’s accumulated experience in Latin music.

“Cuerdas y Tumbao” features Alfredo de la Fe in the violin. His solo brings back memories of his performance in the song “Nada de Ti” included in the album “The Sun of Latin Music” (1974). That album won the first Grammy for a Latin music album. As a result, it opened the door for all the others that would follow.

Eddie Palmieri in "Sabiduría / Wisdom" cover art
The maestro Eddie Palmieri considers “Sabiduría” his best album yet.

“Sabiduría” brings in a straight ahead jazz format including trap drums, a format part of Palmieri’s vast experience but not one he uses often. Perhaps that’s why it’s the perfect song to reminding us that he’s much more than a 2-trick act. The song reunites the piano maestro with Bernard “Pretty” Purdie (drums) and Ronnie Cuber (sax) from the Harlem River Drive days in the early 1970’s.

The story behind “Life” is a touching one that will change the way you listen to this song. In this one I’ll copy the liner notes written by Alan Leeds, as they eloquently capture the story.

“Iraida’s tragic and sudden illness all but paralyzed her husband. Devastated by her condition, he expressed himself the way he knew best by booking a studio early one morning, improvising and recording “Life” while Iraida listen by the phone. The message of strength that they shared is abundant in this music, to love life and always look forward. THAT is the essence of Sabiduría.”

Wow! There is no way I could’ve said that better. Listen to “Life”, and Eddie’s groans take a special meaning. With them, you can feel his emotion come out as you imagine his wife listening to this performance over the phone.

Video of Eddie Palmieri Interview on “Sabiduría

Here’s a great interview of Eddie Palmieri talking about the album “Sabiduría”.

…the Rest of the Songs

“Samba do Suenho” is a song included in his second collaboration with Cal Tjader in the 60’s. In “Bamboleate” (1967), Eddie and Cal completed an exceptional 2-album collaboration which Eddie’s first full records dedicated to Latin Jazz.

Eddie Palmieri at piano in "Doin' it in the Park" cover art
“Sabiduría” includes 3 songs from Eddie’s previous album “Doin’ It In The Park”.

“The Uprising” – a great adaptation of the classic “Revolt / La Libertad Logico”, originally included in the album “Vamonos Pa’l Monte” (1971). This one has no signing. Instead, there are interludes of bata drums interweaved with the melodic structure of the song.

The last 3 songs were included in Palmieri’s previous recording “Doin’ It In The Park” (2013). It was the soundtrack for a New York City basketball documentary. This possibly explains why it wasn’t as commercially popular as his previous albums. The songs “Coast to Coast”, “Locked In”, and “Jibarita y Su Son” all come from this album.

These songs feature the rhythm and percussion sections, with no brass with the exception of Ronnie Cuber’s sax in “Locked In”. The songs are full of high energy all the way, culminating with the fabulous Danzón “Jibarita y Su Son”. Appropriately, the song and album ends with a touch of bata drums.

“Sabiduría” Another Palmieri Masterpiece

All in all, “Sabiduría / Wisdom” can be added to the collection of Eddie Palmieri’s masterpieces. Eddie stated it is his best recording yet. Since Eddie is the sole flag-bearer of Latin music, the man that played with the great ones of Latin music, and has been one himself for many years, it’s hard to argue his point.

I did enjoy “Sabiduría” immensely and highly recommend it.

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  1. […] other example I mentioned to Oscar Hernandez was Eddie Palmieri. Eddie is another one of the Salsa and Latin music great bandleaders to alternate his music between […]

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