Latino Virtuoso Eddie Palmieri Proclaimed NEA Jazz Master


Jazz virtuoso Eddie Palmieri
Puerto Rican jazz great Eddie Palmieri has been declared a 2013 NEA Jazz Masters, the nation’s highest honor in jazz, by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Palmieri, a native New Yorker who now lives in Las Vegas, is a pianist, bandleader, arranger, and composer. He will receive a $25,000 one-time award from the NEA. Other jazz greats honored for 2013 are: pianist Mose Alison; saxophonist Lou Donaldson and Lorraine Gordon, a jazz club owner who is being honored for her advocacy.
NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman said, “Each of the 2013 NEA Jazz Masters has made an indelible mark on jazz as we know it today. Eddie Palmieri successfully combines the sounds of his Puerto Rican heritage with the jazz music he grew up with as a first-generation American.”
Palmieri join such jazz greats as Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald and Herbie Hancock in being designated a jazz master.
Here is how the NEA described Palmieri in a news release, “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 Puerto Rico with the melody and complexity of his jazz influences: Thelonious Monk and NEA Jazz Masters Herbie Hancock and McCoy Tyner.”
In 1975, Palmieri won the first-ever Grammy Award for Best Latin Recording for his album The Sun of Latin Music (he has won nine Grammys altogether to date, including two for his influential recording with Tito Puente, Obra Maestra/Masterpiece).
In addition to the Grammy Awards, Palmieri has received numerous other honors, including the Eubie Blake Award (1991); the Award for Most Exciting Latin Performance, presented by the BBC in London (2002); Yale University’s Chubb Fellowship for Palmieri’s work building communities through music (2002); the Harlem Renaissance Award (2005); the Jay McShann Lifetime Achievement Award (2008); along with Palmieri’s induction into the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame. A year later, the Library of Congress added Palmieri’s composition “Azucar Pa’ Ti” to the National Recording Registry.
In 2012, Palmieri showed no signs of slowing down, creating his first original score for the documentary Doin’ It in the Park, which explores the cultural influence of playground basketball on sports and music.
The NEA will again partner with Jazz at Lincoln Center to produce an awards ceremony and concert in honor of the 2013 NEA Jazz Masters,  that will be webcast live on Monday, January 14, 2013 on and The ceremony will also be simulcast on SiriusXM Satellite Radio.
Photo © Julio César Velandria via Wikimedia Commons