Eddie Palmieri may be on his 75th-birthday tour, but the musician like his music still exudes youthful energy. "I was taught that after 50, you start counting by one again, so I'm going to be turning 26 on my next birthday," he joked.
With high spirits and high energy, the Latin jazz musician will be teaming up with trumpeter Brian Lynch for a performance with the JazzSLC series at the Capitol Theatre on Saturday.
Lynch said he's been playing with Palmieri "forever" actually 25 years although in the beginning it was as a member of his salsa orchestra. "Now our relationship in this jazz quartet is more of a co-leader one, although I'm still very much the junior partner," he said.
Palmieri agreed. "Brian Lynch has been with me two centuries. He looks great for being 200 years old. He's just an incredible musician a great trumpet player."
Lynch and Palmieri's teamwork received formal recognition when their CD "Simpatico" won a 2006 Grammy in the Latin Jazz category. Lynch is known for being strongly rooted in straight-ahead jazz, but he's also firmly entrenched in the Latin scene, said local jazz musician Jay Lawrence, who teaches jazz classes at local universities. "He's just a strong, high-note trumpet player with great jazz chops."
For the upcoming concert, both musicians will play in a quartet that includes drummer Dafnis Prieto and bassist Boris Kozlov. "These are great, great musicians," Palmieri said. "When I talk to you about great, they are great."
Lawrence labeled Prieto as one of the country's best drummers, "primarily because he can do everything, but he's especially gifted in the Afro-Cuban tradition."
Palmieri thinks the chemistry of the musicians makes the music better. "The variations that we do melodically and the variations that we do rhythmically are quite interesting and we're certainly going to excite you by listening to us."
While Palmieri and Lynch might be "simpatico" together, the bulk of their careers have been built as independent artists.
Palmieri was recently named the 2013 National Endowments for the Arts Jazz Master, the recognition coming after a lifetime of achievement. He is best known for blending sophisticated jazz influences like Thelonious Monk, Herbie Hancock and McCoy Tyner into a solid Puerto Rican Latin Jazz base.
He has released 36 albums and won nine Grammys. "I have a nephew that says 'Uncle, you need one more for the other thumb,' " Palmieri quipped. His first Grammy, for "The Sun of Latin Music," was groundbreaking, as it was the first time the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences recognized Latin music as a genre. And his composition "Azúcar Pa' Tí" has been recorded with the National Recording Registry of the United States Library of Congress.
Despite his career track record, Palmieri continues to seek new projects, such as "Doin' in the Park," a soundtrack for a documentary about street basketball that will be released next year. He said the unique rhythm section offered an exciting, but very different approach to Latin jazz, which he considers "the fusion of the 21st century."
And, of course, he maintains a touring schedule that crisscrosses the globe and would exhaust a man half his age.
Lynch has been a part of that touring schedule this year and in years past.
It's a tricky balancing act for Lynch, who works a day job as an assistant professor at the University of Miami's Frost School of Music, where he teaches jazz trumpet. But he considers juggling teaching and performing worth it.
His most meaningful achievements, he said, have been playing with some of the jazz greats Art Blakey, Benny Golson, Horace Silver, Charles McPherson and, of course, Eddie Palmieri.
Eddie Palmieri and Brian Lynch Latin Band
JazzSLC brings Latin Jazz greats to heat up the holidays.
When • Saturday, Dec. 8, 7:30 p.m.
Where • Capitol Theatre, 50 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City
Tickets • $28, students $10; at www.arttix.org or 801-355-ARTS