… from seeing Eddie Palmieri blow the roof off of Jazz at Lincoln Center last Saturday night. As Jazz Beyond Jazz put it:

Swing they did, La Perfecta, swing hard, with style, precision and vengeance much more driving, cool and fiery than anything else taken for swing today. If only the Rose Hall seats could have been pushed aside for dancing. Swing, swivel, dip, cut, twist, step, shift, glide, gesture — faster, faster, faster — in perfect syncopation with the polyrhythmic percussion, the riffing trombones and trumpet, the steely-plucked trés and full-bodied but sparely applied flute.

Palmieri at the piano — age 73, dapper in suit and yellow tie, busy cueing his horns, supporting his elegant yet impassioned male singers, goosing the tempo kept by his deft young bassist and veteran conga player, breaking into unpredictably funky or classical, flowing or staggered keyboard solos — is probably the last surviving bandleader in America today who makes “swing” transcend its historic import to render big band virtuosity, intensity and density at highest speeds more immediate than tomorrow’s pop. His music isn’t  contemporary, it’s immediate, and thus timeless.
On the way out of the show, we ran into Ned Sublette, who was on his way to New Orleans to accept an award for his new book, The World That Made New Orleans. I wish I could read as fast as this man can write!
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