Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music



(b Carlos Manuel Palmieri Jr, 21 Nov. '27, NYC; d 12 Sep. '88, NYC) Pianist, bandleader, arranger, composer, A&R man, producer; a fine soloist with emphasis on the melodic in improvisation. From Puerto Rican family, grew up in the Bronx; studied piano at Juilliard; worked '40s--50s with Rafael Mu¤oz, Xavier Cugat, Tito Puente, Pupi Campo, Johnny Segui, Tito Rodriguez, Vicentico Vald‚s, Pete Terrace; also recorded with Latin-jazz group (e.g. tracks on Continental '48 featuring Sab£ Martinez on conga compiled on Cuban Rhythms By Peruchin And Charlie Palmieri '95 on Caney, and Easy Does It '58 on Gone with Johnny Pacheco playing conga and bongo). He formed Charanga 'La Duboney' late '59 with four violins, Pacheco on flute: Gilberto Vald‚s had been unsuccessful early '50s with the charanga format, but Duboney's debut at a New Year's Eve dance launched a craze: they became so popular that they played several dances a night. Debut album was Let's Dance The Charanga! '60 on United Artists (reissued as Echoes Of An Era on West Side Latino), with vocalist Vitin Avil‚s (b 30 Sep. '24, Mayag]auu[ez, Puerto Rico); Pacheco left to form his own group and Palmieri switched to Al Santiago's Alegre label for Pachanga At The Caravana Club, Viva Palmieri and Salsa Na' Ma' Vol. 3 '61--3, as well as contributing tracks to Las Charangas -- Pacheco, Palmieri, Fajardo '61.

He became mus. dir. for series of studio descarga (Latin jam session) LPs: four vols. by Alegre All Stars '61 to mid- '60s, inspired by the legendary Cuban Jam Session albums (see Israel 'Cachao' Lopez), in turn launching similar LPs by Kako, Pacheco, Osvaldo 'Chi Hua Hua' Martinez, Pupi Legarreta, as well as Tico, Cesta, Salsa, Fania and SAR All Stars (he played piano on Kako's After Hour Orchestra, Tico, Cesta and Salsa sessions). In the mid-'60s he joined Latin NY's 'swing to brass', dropping violins and flute for three trumpets and two trombones; the new Duboney Orchestra incl. Bobby Valentin on trumpet, singer Victor Vel zquez, made LP Tengo Maquina y Voy a 60 '65; briefly left Alegre to make Yenquele, Maria ('Swing, Maria') for BG c'66 (reissued in Venezuela as Mas de Charlie Palmieri), followed by the rock-solid Hay Que Estar En Algo/Either You Have It Or You Don't '67 back on Alegre; Latin Bugalu '68 on Atlantic was prod. by Herbie Mann; apart from cashing in on boogaloo craze (which Palmieri didn't care for) it incl. his classic 'Mambo Show'. He became Puente's adviser and right-hand man '69 on TV's El Mundo De Tito Puente; after the series ended he began a teaching career in Latin music and culture. He provided some exciting organ work to brother Eddie Palmieri's '71 recordings Vamonos Pa'l Monte, Harlem River Drive, Live At Sing Sing, Eddie Palmieri And Friends In Concert At The University Of Puerto Rico and Live At Sing Sing Vol. 2, issued '71--4. During the '70s Charlie recorded with horn section of two trumpets and Bobby Nelson doubling on sax and flute (adding trombone '77--8); played organ as well as piano; his best '70s LPs were probably El Gigante Del Teclado, Vuelve El Gigante and Adelante, Gigante '72--5, all on Alegre with lead singer Avil‚s; with his regular outfit he played organ only on Electro Duro '74 on Coco: the organ lent an unfortunate quality of kitsch to some of his work; the Coco follow-up was an improvement: Impulsos '75 was a polished rehash of the funkier Charlie Palmieri c'69 on Mary Lou, both incl. Vel zquez. Charlie collaborated with Panamanian singer/composer Me¤ique (Miguel Barcasnegras) on Con Salsa y Sabor '77 on Cotique.

To celebrate the 17th anniversary of the Alegre All Stars '77, ten veterans of the original studio descargas plus Louie Ramirez on vibes, reedman Bobby Rodriguez and members of Bobby's 'up and flying' band La Compa¤ia were assembled under Palmieri's leadership for Perdido (Vol. 5 Or 6?) (cuts from this LP and '60s Alegre All Stars sessions were later compiled on Te Invita '92); he stayed with Alegre for The Heavyweight '78, with Me¤ique and Julito Villot sharing lead vocals, and performed and arranged on Vitin Avil‚s's solo LP Con Mucha Salsa '78; the commendable compilation Gigante Hits '78, selected by Al Santiago from Charlie's '65--75 period with Alegre, marked the end of his return stint with the label. In '79 he was featured in Jeremy Marre's TV film Salsa, teaching in a South Bronx school and playing electric piano with Puente. He went to Puerto Rico early '80, formed a successful band but did not record; returned to NYC '83, suffered heart attack and stroke which left him half-paralysed; despite a gloomy medical prognosis he recovered, made revered Latin jazz LP A Giant Step '84 on Tropical Budda, reviving Noro Morales's piano and rhythm (bass, timbales, conga, bongo) format. He co-led Combo Gigante with singer/percussionist Jimmy Sabater in NYC '86--8 incl. two trumpets, trombone, sax/flute; played piano on El Sabor Del Conjunto Candela/86 on Laslos, led by bongo/g]auu[iro player Ralphy Marzan, and on Joe Quijano's The World's Most Exciting Latin Orchestra And Review '88 on Cesta. He made a long-overdue UK debut June '88 at London's now closed Bass Clef backed by London-based Robin Jones's King Salsa; died from another heart attack three months later.

Tropical Budda posthumously issued Mambo Show '90 containing Latin jazz sessions by an all-star aggregation featuring Charlie (piano and co-prod.), conguero Mongo Santamaria, saxophonist Jos‚ 'Chombo' Silva, trombonist Barry Rogers and others. As prod./A&R he worked with Celia Cruz, Puente, Rafael Cortijo, Ismael Rivera; played piano on LPs by Herbie Mann (The Family Of Mann c'61 and Latin Mann mid-'60s), Mon Rivera (his classic Que Gente Averigua '63), Cruz (her tremendous Son Con Guaguanco c'66), Ismael Quintana, Cal Tjader (Primo '73), Ra£l Marrero, Frankie Dante, Bobby Capo, Cachao (Cachao y su Descarga '77 Vol. 1 '76 and Dos '77), Machito (Fireworks '77), Mongo Santamaria (Red Hot '79, Soy Yo '87), Ray Barretto, others; also performed on Eddie's '78 and '84 albums. The Montuno Sessions -- Live From Studio 'A' '95 on Mr Bongo incl. three '80s radio sessions by Charlie.