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Friday, January 23, 2015

The “Latin” Piano


 
When I say “Latin” piano, I'm referring to the role that the piano plays in giving flavor to salsa music and son music from Cuba (pronounced sewn) on which salsa music is based. In my younger years, before the term salsa was coined, the music was simply known as “Latin.”

Ever since my teen years in New York City, which was then the salsa music capital of the world (now it's Cali, Colombia, in my opinion), the most uplifting and pleasurable listening experience in salsa music was the piano; especially when featuring such artists as Eddie Palmieri and his late brother Charlie.

The “Latin” piano is the underlying base of salsa music containing sophisticated harmonies, syncopated rhythms, and various chord progressions. Although the piano is technically a percussion instrument, it gives the rhythm section a melody with riffs, or what they call in salsa music, guajeos, which drives the rhythm section with seductive, hot, and spicy Afro-Latin beats.

Here is a classic played by my favorite “Latin” pianist of all time; my New York homie Eddie Palmieri: