Harlem River Drive was a short-lived but righteous group of musicians brought together in 1970-71 by Puerto Rican pianist and bandleader Eddie Palmieri. Palmieri was always one to push beyond the boundaries of whatever music he was playing in the 60s. He always seemed restless, always out to top himself. By the end of the decade Palmieri was the king of the latin dance floors. So he got down and pushed further out.
A street-tough blend of Latin rhythms, 70s funk and fusion, rock and soul grooves, social poetry, with a touch of psychedelia, Harlem River Drive was named after a short highway in New York City. "In reality, Harlem River Drive was a dividing line," says singer Jimmy Norman in waxpoetics, "a highway where all the rich people just zip past the ghetto, and here we are, just watching them go by."
A line that divides people can also be crossed to unite them. Sounds that polarize people can also be blended to incite them. Harlem River Drive was the sound of a place and time: Harlem, Latin Soul, counterculture, inequality. It offered a message for the masses: empowerment, togetherness, social justice, prosperity. Palmieri took bold steps by crossing over all the lines laid before him. The results of his collaborative experiment were a delirious, ephemeral, and socially conscious trip through, around, and past East Harlem, "from 125th Street to a bridge called G-Dub."
Harlem River Drive "Harlem River Drive (Theme Song)"
LISTEN: Harlem River Drive "Seeds of Life"
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