LIVE: The Ed Palermo Big Band @ the Falcon, 8/1/15

August 24th, 2015, 4:00 pm by Greg
Ed Palerma

Ed Palermo

Review and photographs by Rudy Lu

If you attend one of the Ed Palermo Big Band’s shows – this was my fourth – you musically expect the unexpected. Mash-ups and medleys of seemingly unrelated tunes concocted together into a bubbling spicy stew by conductor-arranger Palermo.

The big band’s latest gig at The Falcon in Marlboro was not only a non-stop audio extravaganza, but also a visual spectacle when Palermo & Co. paid tribute to the Beach Boys.

Wearing a 19th century men’s bathing suit, a safari helmet and a life ring, Palermo was a little less frenetic (although not much) conducting his virtuoso ensemble through another death-defying adventure in chart reading.

He was generally barefoot and standing in a small sandbox to better put himself, the band and in the audience in touch with the true spirit and inspiration of Beach Boys’ mastermind Brian Wilson.

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LIVE: The Ed Palermo Big Band @ Proctors’ GE Theatre, 4/18/14

April 23rd, 2014, 2:00 pm by Greg
The Ed Palermo Big Band

The Ed Palermo Big Band

Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Rudy Lu


I can’t remember the last time that a concert left me so breathless. The 17-piece Ed Palermo Big Band rolled into Proctors’ GE Theatre in Schenectady last Friday night, making their Nippertown debut as the third and final concert of 2014 Party Horns NYC series. And what a party it was. They kicked off the night with sections of “Call Any Vegetable” and “Zomby Woof” (which was the connective tissue that ran through the entire concert) before stomping into “Willie the Pimp.”

And on and on they went, dashing through a sprawling 40-minute suite, taking a huge batch of the late great Frank Zappa’s already impossibly complex instrumental songs and melding them into a magnificent, mountainous medley. All without pausing to take a breath. Under the watch of the indefatigable Palermo and his hyper, two-fisted conducting, the band sliced and diced Zappa’s catalog into delirium, cutting and pasting Mothers of Invention gems into a seamless string of sizzling shards that seemed almost beyond comprehension.

Yes, it was a big band tribute to the irreverent iconoclast Frank Zappa. That’s what Palermo does, and he’s got four albums worth of stellar recordings – the latest, Oh No, Not Jazz, is a double CD, so that actually makes it five – to prove it. But there was none of the sophomoric, pee-pee-doo-doo stuff that Zappa sometimes indulged in. No, this band was focused on his vast catalog of rich, sophisticated instrumental compositions – and they performed them with an undeniable sense of playfulness and a genuine love for the material.

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LIVE: The Ed Palermo Big Band @ the Falcon, 5/11/12

May 16th, 2012, 4:00 pm by Sara
The Ed Palermo Big Band @ the Falcon, 5/11/12

Review and photographs by Rudy Lu

Paul Butterfield and Mike Bloomfield – two pioneers of modern-day blues and rock have been long gone. The Paul Butterfield Blues Band (with Mike Bloomfield on lead guitar) performed at the traditionally acoustic Newport Folk Festival back in 1965 and blew the doors down with their raucous, amplified, Chicago-style blues. Of course, members of the band also memorably backed Bob Dylan’s electric debut at the fest.

The PBBB evolved to eventually include a horn section (including a young saxman named David Sanborn) and play at the big 1969 Woodstock fest. Bloomfield went on to play with the Electric Flag, as well as with Al Kooper on “Super Session.”

The spirit and the memory of their music is one of the projects of the Ed Palermo Big Band. Palermo’s band is primarily known for its interpretations of the music of Frank Zappa, and the big band has released three CDs of Zappa’s music. But their project of performing the music of Butterfield and Bloomfield has yet to be recorded.

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