Known as one of the finest Latin jazz pianists of the past 50 years, Eddie Palmieri is also known as a bandleader of both salsa and Latin jazz orchestras. His playing skillfully fuses the rhythm of his Puerto Rican heritage with the melody and complexity of his jazz influences: his older brother Charlie, Thelonious Monk, Herbie Hancock, and McCoy Tyner.
Palmieri's parents emigrated from Ponce, Puerto Rico to New York City in 1926, and he grew up in Spanish Harlem, which was also known as “El Barrio” due to its large Latino community. Palmieri learned to play the piano at an early age, and at 13, he joined his uncle's orchestra, playing timbales.
Palmieri's professional career as a pianist took off in the early 1950s when he played with various bands: Eddie Forrester's Orchestra, Johnny Segui's band, and the popular Tito Rodriguez Orchestra. In 1961, 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 the Latin performances, surprising critics and fans alike. Palmieri disbanded La Perfecta in 1968 due to financial difficulties, though he would return to the band's music in the 2000s.