Review: Eddie Palmieri’s latest will move you to dance

Gary Gerard Hamilton
Associated Press

It might be the winter season for the U.S., but Eddie Palmieri brings the sunshine and warmth with his latest album, “Mi Luz Mayor.”

The Spanish Harlem New Yorker is a living legend and cultural treasure — chances are you’ve heard his melodies or tunes influenced by him during your last vacation in the Caribbean, or when you walked through Washington Heights on your way to the Cloisters.

“Mi Luz Mayor,” which loosely translates into “My Eternal Light,” is filled with bright, melodic tunes that are almost guaranteed to make you get up and salsa — or at least try.

The eight-time Grammy winner recruited dozens of renowned musicians for the album, including frequent collaborators Jimmy Bosch, Luques Curtis, Brian Lynch and Little Johnny Rivero. The album is comprised of eight salsa arrangements, along with three originals — “Mi Congo” featuring famed guitarist Carlos Santana, the title track, and “Yo Soy Mulato,” an ode to his grandmother of African descent.

Songs like “Chica Ni Lambo,” “Abarriba Cumbiaremos” and “Quimbombo” — the latter two featuring a superb Herman Olivera — grab you and transport you into a tiny Puerto Rican cafe, where the locals effortlessly glide, spin and twirl into the night. There’s also the beautiful “Que Falta Tu Me Haces,” a slower ballad sang so beautifully by the esteemed Gilberto Santa Rosa you’ll be encouraged to play it for the one you adore, even if you don’t completely understand the Spanish lyrics.

“Mi Luz Mayor,” Palmieri’s second full-length release this year, was created in love: The pianist, bandleader and composer, who turns 82 on Saturday, said it is reminiscent of the “music that my late wife, Iraida, and I enjoyed in our youth” (Palmieri lost his wife to cancer in 2014).

Though it is dedicated to his wife, this isn’t an album of heartbreak or mourning, but instead a celebration of the happy memories he shared with the love of his life.

“Mi Luz Mayor” is sure to make you smile, tap your foot or even get up and dance, even if Latin jazz isn’t your go-to genre. Salsa lessons, however, are not included.

‘Mi Luz Mayor’

Eddie Palmieri