Eddie Palmieri is one of those upper echelon musicians who sometimes seems to tire of typical musical formats and just go off on his own personal tangent. This makes for some intense and idiosyncratic soundscapes that can be utterly indecipherable to anyone not paying close attention. Thankfully, on this 1971 salsa classic, he basically sits down and kicks out the jams, keeping the Cecil Taylor-in-Havana-isms to a minimum. The whole first side is a tour de force of latin groove, starting with the blazing "La Malanga." The band lets you catch your breath for a minute with the laid back "Pa' Huele," an easy summertime swinger, before "Bilongo" closes out the side with minor key rhumba for the dancers. The flip side of the record is where Eddie has obviously decided to stretch out, evidenced by the 8-minute abstraction "Que Lindo Eso!" (lotsa potential sample sounds here) and the slow bubbler "Chocolate Ice Cream," a feature for ace trumpeter "Chocolate" Armenteros. Only the deepest dance heads are going to be hip to "17.1," the last track on the album, but I wonder if there's a soul alive who could keep still as this descarga builds to a charging climax. I heard Joe Claussel drop this at Body and Soul once and, along with the rest of the room, lost my marbles. An intersection of musicality, groove and energy that has few equals, and the pinnacle of a great album.
- music label: Tico Records