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NEW RELEASES : Palmieri Takes New Route With Help From Friends

September 11, 1994|Leila Cobo-Hanlon

EDDIE PALMIERI

"Palmas"

Elektra Nonesuch

* *

After five Grammys and over 25 recordings of salsa and jazz, pianist Eddie Palmieri has very little left to prove. Which is perhaps why this new album of original compositions and arrangements--his first purely instrumental album--while ensemble-perfect, is largely uninspiring.

In this octet format, Palmieri blends Latin percussion (with the piano acting almost entirely as the percussion instrument it is) with jazz winds and brass. And while each tune firmly establishes a feel-good Latin rhythm, there is little venturing out or variation, not only within each song but also in the record as a whole. The album starts off with a bang with its signature piece, but what follows are mainly variations on "Palmas."

At the piano, Palmieri sticks to keeping the Latin beat, and his solos, even "Bolero Dos," the only piece in which he is highlighted, are mostly chordal and lacking in melodic line. Palmieri himself said "Palmas" strives to combine two individual factions, Latin and jazz, with the jazz musicians soloing over the Latin rhythm section. While this formula is exciting, by never deviating from it the music's creativity is compromised and the excitement is eventually lost.

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good, recommended), four stars (excellent).

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