November 20, 2017 / 6:39 AM

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Eddie Palmieri Kicks Off World Music Festival Chicago With Salsa, Dancing in The Aisles

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Ushers had another thing coming if they expected to keep the aisles clear during a successful salsa concert. Although we applaud their efforts to maintain the fire code, Eddie Palmieri and his Salsa Orchestra had other ideas Thursday night. 

Palmieri and his band were the opening acts of the 15th annual World Music Festival Chicago, and the Chicago Tribune had some complaints about the performance at Millennium Park, even if none of them were the band's fault. The reviewer from the Tribune complained that the sound engineers had the band turned up too loud, leading to a distortion of the group's sound, and more incidentally, that the videographer at the event didn't seem to be able to frame the musicians without cutting off their legs. 

The good news is that those in attendance didn't seem to mind, in case the opening paragraph didn't indicate that. The review read that Palmieri didn't take the lead as much as he had in previous appearances, but that when he did, his solos jumped into keys unexpected by a logical musician (and were all the better for it). 

Palmieri was born to Puerto Rican migrants in the South Bronx and took up the piano, playing at Carnegie Hall for the first time when he was 11. He played in famous salsa bands including Tito Rodriguez's, and founded his own, the Conjunto La Perfecta, during the '60s. Something worked out, and he's been the recipient of nine Grammys. 

Palmieri says his passion for the piano was inspired by his struggles with the timbales. 

"By 15, it was good-bye timbales and back to the piano until this day," he said. "I'm a frustrated percussionist, so I take it out on the piano."

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