Album Remarks & Appraisals:
"Is Latin jazz some musicians' excuse for having fun? Eddie Palmieri's really a jazz-influenced Latin pianist, but he has lots of fun running and recording bands of top-line jazzmen. He's no conventionally accomplished contemporary jazz pianist, but all the better because he's unconventional, distinguished mostly by his very competent musical extrovert verve.
This outgoing date has only occasional quiet moments, like John Scofield's near-mandolin acoustic guitar in "La Gitana," amid examples of the boss-man's bass- supported and very musical crash, bang, and extended flourish.
The guests are a very musical extravagance. Regina Carter delivers robust swing violin with the octet doing the little big band thing on Palmieri's "In Flight," before the horns and bassist go for a beer with Carter and Mike Brecker comes in on R&B tenor for an Eddie Harris tune; Christian McBride replaces the bassist and solos substantially. David Sanchez's tenor comes in with John Scofield's electric guitar for another Palmieri tune, along with the full band. Then the bassist duets with Palmieri on another of the latter's tunes.
Back come all the horns for the Gil Fuller/Chano Pozo Dizzy Gillespie big band piece "Tin Tin Deo," Sanchez soloing, then Palmieri and the sparky Giovanni Hidalgo. Monk's "In Walked Bud" is next, en famille, with no guests, featuring a solo from everybody bar the bassist and Doug Beavers, who gets credit throughout for "additional arrangement and orchestration" wherever the band is bigger. The two trombones are the pivot of the larger group music. Monk's rhythms lose some subtlety in louder performance, but they Latinise well, and there's always ample swing.
Even Scofield's quieter bout in the trio interlude "La Gitana" doesn't calm things, Palmieri makes certain. Carter and trumpeter Nicholas Payton are the guest soloists on Horace Silver's "Nica's Dream," third in a dream trilogy. "Mira Flores" is yet another good Palmieri number, with Christian McBride guesting brilliantly on bass, compensating for Mike Brecker's lapse into a current pop tenor saxophone sound.
"EP Blues" is a final Palmieri composition for the time being, carrying things to a close, Benitez back with a vengeance and Payton acting as guest soloist. Why is Ivan Renta, sometime saxophonist in the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, thanked for "additional alto saxophone"? Are his performances all unlisted? Did the excellent Donald Harrison need help, or a did a tape of him need patching? Conrad Herwig storms in solo, followed by Brian Lynch, Donald Harrison better than ever and Payton building to the climax, which is of course Palmieri's. Hidalgo takes things out. His business is what it's all about, considering the drummer on this date is no less than Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez." -AllAboutJazz
"Piano maestro Eddie Palmieri is celebrating the golden anniversary of his career in music, and Listen Here! applies his singular style to straight-ahead jazz. The all-star lineup he has assembled weaves his wonderful arrangements of originals and standards seamlessly into the Latin idiom.
Regina Carter's violin dances along the salsa rhythm of "In Flight, with trumpeter Brian Lynch and alto saxophonist Donald Harrison deftly trading fours, eighths, and sixteenths. Swinging tenor work by Michael Brecker and Christian McBride's pumping bass are highlights of the title track. Palmieri is frequently touted as "the Latin Monk, and his solo on this cut recalls Monk's idiosyncratic use of time, space, and chords. The waltz "Vals Con Bata features a sultry tenor solo by David Sanchez, and John Scofield adds some Wes Montgomery-like octaves to the mix on electric guitar. "Tema Para Eydie is an exquisite duet with rumbling pizzicato bass by John Benitez complementing Palmieri's sparkling left hand runs.
Palmieri's arrangement of Dizzy Gillespie's "Tin Tin Deo, with Sanchez on tenor, expands on and deepens the Latin influence that Diz used as his base. "In Walked Bud, a Monk classic, begins as a mambo, with Conrad Herwig and Donald Harrison adding brass and reed flourishes, then shifts to Afro-Cuban, with percussion by Horacio "El Negro Hernandez.
Scofield paints a finely nuanced flamenco sketch on "La Gitana as Palmieri fills the spaces with Tyneresque block chords and single note lines. Carter returns for some more fine fiddlin' on "Nica's Dream, adding some pizzicato licks to go with her quicksilver arco. "Mira Flores is a lovely waltz with a fine arrangement and solid sax work by Brecker and fine plucking by McBride. The final tune, "E.P. Blues, features hot solos by Lynch, Harrison, and Nicholas Payton; relentless percussion by Hernandez and Giovanni Hidalgo and a torrid statement by Palmieri provide the exclamation point.
Palmieri is secure and content enough to let musicians more familiar with the straight-ahead language to do their thing, and he has tailored his arrangements so that everyone has ample room to stretch out. Listen Here! shows that experience and time haven't stunted Palmieri's growth one bit." -AllAboutJazz
"The big band sound of Eddie Palmieri's powerful ensemble leaves no doubt: Latin jazz has the capacity to excite, to thrill, and to interpret good music all night long.
Featured solo voices include trumpeter Bryan Lynch, alto saxophonist Donald Harrison, trombonist Conrad Herwig, and pianist Palmieri. His musical guests give Listen Here! an added force that drives the message home. Your heart won't slow down until the CD has finished and someone has turned out the lights. Palmieri's session is hot. It'll whisk you away on a New York vacation, complete with all the soul sauce that your body can absorb.
At the piano, the leader strides with percussive confidence. He provides his band with a model that they willingly follow to its forceful conclusion. All points converge on hot jazz that flows like blood through our veins.
Regina Carter takes "In Flight" to its extremes with a rollicking melody that pours like fine wine. Michael Brecker interprets "Listen Here" the way Eddie Harris used to say it. John Scofield drives "Vals con Bata" with fiery enthusiasm, and David Sánchez adds an eruption of tenor smoke. "Tin Tin Deo" features Sánchez and Palmieri in solo spots that loom both suave and direct. The pianist leaves no doubt about his intentions. He's determined to give his audience a night to remember.
Scofield returns on "La Gitana" with an acoustic guitar interpretation that swells with its nod to tradition. He and Palmieri unite to create a dream that returns to the era of Django Reinhardt and intuitive his capacity for swing. Nicholas Payton and violinist Carter give "Nica's Dream" a hefty kick that recalls Dizzy Gillespie and the dreams that he left us. Brecker and bassist Christian McBride join Palmieri on a trio session for "Mira Flores," which paints a lovely picture of Spanish tradition. Each drives this piece forcefully; both Brecker and McBride solo with straight-ahead authority.
Payton returns to close the album with Palmieri's "EP Blues," which serves as a trademark for the hot big band sound that the pianist gets from his ensemble. A driving tempo and subtle harmonic dissonance keeps the piece fresh and alive as everyone jams on this highly recommended session." -AllAboutJazz
Down Beat (p.64) - "Palmieri kicks off with 'In Flight,' a loping staccato riff that Carter promptly begins sawing into with force and power."
JazzTimes (p.100) - "On the bolero 'Tema Para Eydie' and the flamenco-influenced 'La Gitana' the master caresses the keys, creating a gorgeous Caribbean-meets-classical sound."
Personnel: Eddie Palmieri (piano); Eddie Palmieri; Ivan Renta (alto saxophone); Christian McBride, John Benítez (bass instrument); John Scofield (acoustic guitar, electric guitar); Regina Carter (violin); Donald Harrison (alto saxophone); David Sanchez , Michael Brecker (tenor saxophone); Nicholas Payton, Brian Lynch (trumpet); Conrad Herwig, Doug Beavers (trombone); Horacio "El Negro" Hernández (drums); Giovanni Hidalgo (congas, bata, guiro).
Audio Mixer: Jon Fausty.
Liner Note Authors: Pia Lopez; Rene Lopez .
Recording information: Avatar Studios, New York, NY (01/19/2005-01/23/2005).
Photographer: Lisa Stein.
Arrangers: Eddie Palmieri; Doug Beavers.
During his career, Eddie Palmieri hasn't seemed completely comfortable unless he's allowing others to challenge him. It was true at the beginning of his career when he revolutionized Latin music with his charanga, the La Perfecta ensemble; it was true during the mid-'60s when he recorded two respected dates with Cal Tjader; it was true during the '60s and '70s when he energized the Latin superstar band, the Fania All-Stars; and it was still true in early 2005 when he recorded Listen Here! Released on Concord Picante, it sees an array of excellent jazz instrumentalists sharing solo space with his regular group. First up is Regina Carter, not a natural fit for a Latin group by anyone's estimation, but still a master musician whose sprightly violin proves surprisingly sympathetic with Palmieri's tough salsa unit (and she hangs on easily when the band kicks in to a hardcore salsa halfway through). Tenor Michael Brecker and bassist Christian McBride also prove up to the task on the title track, a salsa re-imagination of Eddie Harris' near-standard "Listen Here." Elsewhere, Palmieri gets several chances to extend his arranging chops, by translating a trio of real standards -- "Tin Tin Deo," "In Walked Bud," "Nica's Dream" -- for his group. ~ John Bush