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Legendary maestro Eddie Palmieri has delivered his second Salsa album of 2018 with “Mi Luz Mayor”.
That’s after a Salsa recording hiatus of 15 years. His previous Salsa recording was “Ritmo Caliente”, which was a hybrid of re-arrangements of some of his previously recorded Salsa hits with some new Latin Jazz.
You would have to go back four more years to his all Salsa recording of “El Rumbero del Piano” (1999).
As if this isn’t enough for Salsa fans, Palmieri added the great singer/sonero Gilberto Santa Rosa to join Herman Olivera at vocals in “Mi Luz Mayor”.
Palmieri Goes Big Band in “Mi Luz Mayor”
For this album, which will surely become historic in Salsa music, the man of the “piano rumbero” decided to expand his orchestra to a big band format.
Palmieri’s Salsa band is not far from being big, but the added brass gives Palmieri’s music a sense of “augmented reality”.
The arrangements were done by the experienced big band maestros Ray Santos and Jose Madera.
Special Guests in “Mi Luz Mayor”
I already mentioned that Gilberto Santa Rosa joined Palmieri’s veteran singer Herman Olivera at vocals.
In addition, Palmieri also invited Latin music legend Carlos Santana to join in the song “Mi Congo”.
The great thing about Palmieri and Santana is that neither has anything to prove. It shows as Santana plays the right riffs at the right time to enhance the song. He’s not in there to takeover the song by showing-off with his guitar. He adds melody and rhythm as the polished musician he is.
Gilberto and Herman sing five songs each. The 11th song in “Mi Luz Mayor” is the instrumental “Mi Congo” featuring Carlos Santana.
Music in “Mi Luz Mayor”
You already guessed what I’m going to say here. Yes, “Mi Luz Mayor” is fabulous!
The big band sound took me a few seconds to get used to, as it smooths the normal Palmieri Orchestra sound.
After you get pass that, you do get to perceive the Palmieri signature sound. His “piano rumbero” is…to steal Santa Rosa’s comment during one of the piano solos, “inconfundible”.
Even in big band format we get plenty of solos. Besides the maestro’s piano and Santana’s guitar, we get to enjoy the musicianship of Nelson Gonzalez on tres, “Little” Johnny Rivero on congas, Karl Perazzo on timbales, and Jimmy Bosch on trombone.
The rest of the band is no less impressive with masters like Chris Washburn, Doug Beavers, Brian Lynch, Pete Nater, Anthony Carrillo, Yosvany Terry, Conrad Herwig, Luques Curtis, and others.
The chorus of Santa Rosa, Jerry Medina, and Juan Pablo Diaz is as good as it gets.
Perhaps more importantly, these are fresh new songs recorded by Palmieri. Let me note that most of them are old classics.
Tribute to Iraida
Eddie Palmieri’s wife Iraida Palmieri passed in 2014. The maestro dedicated the title song to her. “Mi Luz Mayor” is a direct tribute to the love of his life.
I believe that the bolero “Que Falta Tu Me Haces” is also part of that tribute. Although Gilberto Santa Rosa sings the bolero well, I can’t help to reminisce to the masterful rendition of it done by another Gilberto (Monroig) in his album “Interpreta a Bobby Capó” (1979).
“Mi Luz Mayor”; a Finished Masterpiece
For me, an avid Eddie Palmieri fan, “Mi Luz Mayor” is more than his 2nd Salsa album of the year. For me it ranks among Palmieri’s best recordings of his career.
There’s only one thing I wish this album had. A duet of Santa Rosa and Olivera. That would’ve been a treat.
Unlike his 1975 album (which was just recently made available in streaming services), this one is a finished masterpiece.