@ the Barbican Centre, London
25 April 2008
Click an image to enlarge.
Born in Panama in 1966, Danilo Pérez started
his musical studies at just three years of age with his father,
a bandleader and singer. By age 10, he was studying the European
classical piano repertoire at the National Conservatory in Panama.
After receiving his bachelor’s degree in electronics, he moved
to the United States to enrol at Indiana University of Pennsylvania
and after changing his major to music, transferred to the prestigious
Berklee College of Music. From 1985-88, while completing his studies
in jazz composition, he performed with Jon Hendricks, Terence Blanchard,
Claudio Roditi and Paquito D'Rivera, and produced the critically
acclaimed reunion album “Messidor” featuring D'Rivera
and Arturo Sandoval: in 1994, Pérez also appeared on Sandoval’s
Grammy winning album “Danzon”. Since the late ‘80s,
he has toured and/or recorded with Wayne Shorter, Steve Lacy, Jack
DeJohnette, Charlie Haden, Michael Brecker, Joe Lovano, Tito Puente,
Wynton Marsalis, John Patitucci, Tom Harrell, Gary Burton, and Roy
The extraordinary Panamanian pianist and composer
Danilo Pérez is among the most influential and dynamic musicians
of our time. In just over a decade, his distinctive blend of Pan-American
jazz (covering the music of the Americas, folkloric and world music)
has attracted critical acclaim and loyal audiences Pérez’s
abundant talents and joyous enthusiasm make his concerts both memorable
and inspiring. Whether leading his own ensembles or touring with
renowned jazz masters (Wayne Shorter, Roy Haynes, Steve Lacy), Pérez
is making a decidedly fresh imprint on contemporary music, guided,
as always, by his love for jazz.
He has led his own groups since the early ‘90s,
and as bandleader has earned three Grammy nominations for his ebullient
and innovative recordings. Motherland, was nominated for two Grammy
Awards for ‘Best Latin Jazz Album,’ and also garnered
his third win for ‘Best Jazz Album’ from the prestigious
Boston Music Awards.
Pérez first attracted the spotlight as the youngest member
of Dizzy Gillespie’s United Nations Orchestra (1989-1992).
In 1993, Pérez turned his focus to his own
ensembles and recording projects. A bold, ingenious bandleader,
he moved into the spotlight once again, this time for his own RCA/Novus
CDs - Danilo Pérez (1993) and The Journey (1994). The Journey
placed prominently in several Top Ten Albums of 1994 lists.
Pérez is also part of the Wayne Shorter
Quartet. The new Wayne Shorter Quartet was voted “Best Small
Ensemble of the Year” by the Jazz Journalists Association
in 2002 and 2004.
Currently, Pérez serves as the Ambassador
of Goodwill for Unicef, Cultural Ambassador of his native country
of Panama, President and Founder of the Panama Jazz Festival, Artistic
Advisor of the innovative Mellon Jazz Up Close series at the Kimmel
Center in Philadelphia and faculty of New England Conservatory and
Berklee College of Music in Boston. He also continues to play with
Ben Street and Adam Cruz, musicians that have been working with
him for more than two years.
“Trust and deep knowing are the
foundation for the spirited and soulful interplay among the musicians
in this trio. “I know them very well,” says Pérez,
"and we all try to practice brotherhood, love, equality and
freedom in our personal lives and in our music. All of us have become
a family, and there is a feeling of celebration, of transcending
communication, when we play that it is very magical to me.”
I was extremely fortunate to chat with and
photograph Danilo after his inspiring set as part of the Wayne Shorter
Quartet. Danilo welcomed me with open arms as though he had known
me for years. His warmth lifted my spirit at a time when I was feeling
more than a little road weary. After reading his biography. I realised
this man certainly practices what he preaches!
I thank you for sharing your time and positive
energy Mr Pérez.
Michael Valentine Studio