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Danilo Pérez
Danilo Pérez
Danilo Pérez

Danilo Pérez
@ 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 Haynes.

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.

Robin Francis
Michael Valentine Studio

Danilo Pérez



Visit the Danilo Pérez website:

The Journey Panomonk Central Avenue Motherland



Click Wayne Shorter,or Jean Toussaint & Danilo Pérez's image to view more photographs...

Wayne Shorter Quartet (Click to go to his page) Jean Toussaint & Danilo Pérez@ the Pizza Express Jazz Club (Click to go to this page)

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