Eddie Palmieri: Mi Luz Mayor
Octogenarian Eddie Palmieri obviously doesn’t have any plans to stop doing what he’s been doing for more than half a century. Mi Luz Mayor was the second album released by the Puerto Rico-born pianist and bandleader in 2018, following Full Circle, on which he revisited several of his classic salsa compositions. Mi Luz Mayor, which translates to “my oldest light,” stays within the same salsa ballpark as the earlier set but, as the artist has explained, it focuses on music that Palmieri and his late wife, Iraida, enjoyed in their youth. To fully expose the richness embedded within the 11 tunes, Palmieri has enlisted a sizable crew—more than 20 contributors—to erect a large-scale foundation. The tunes are amply populated with full horn sections, vocalists and the ceaselessly churning rhythms that Palmieri has always employed—he’s going for a big sound here, and he gets it. “Quimbombó,” one of several tracks featuring a lead vocal from Herman Olivera, is straight-up danceable salsa for most of its life until, near the midpoint, Palmieri cools things down to a less clamoring simmer and takes off on a piano solo that reaches way outside, then slyly finds its way back. “Mi Congo,” which features Carlos Santana on guitar, is fierce from the get-go, giving the special guest carte blanche to get crazier than he’s been on his own records in some time. Trumpeter Brian Lynch, a regular member of Palmieri’s outfits, is on fire throughout as well. Iraida would’ve been pleased.