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Panama 500

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Editors’ Notes

Pianist Danilo Perez has never been shy about celebrating his homeland. Here, Panama's third most famous expat (after Mariano Rivera and Rubén Blades) commemorates Vasco Nunez de Balboa’s “discovery” of the Pacific Ocean in 1513—this set in motion the country’s role as a global crossroads for commerce and culture, connecting the Atlantic to the Pacific as well as the Americas. Perez uses jazz as a bonding agent but makes far-flung cultural connections with rhythms and structures of Western classical music, African music, and Latin percussion showing up alongside indigenous guna traditions (hand percussion, chanting, and birdcalls). While not particularly long, the “Canal Suite” is the album's centerpiece; the first part (“Land of Hope”) is a nice classical solo piece from Perez, the second (“Premonition in Rhythm”) is a tribal drum and abstract piano-and-violin piece, and the third (“Melting Pot") adds a modern clave. Those who want to hear the jazz emphasized will dig the Wayne Shorter–esque “The Expedition” and the contemplative “Panama Viejo.” Listeners will travel plenty here, but no passport is needed.

Biography

Born: December 29, 1966 in Panama

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Pianist and composer Danilo Pérez has forged a wide path for himself and his music throughout his career to date. Born in 1966 in Panama, Pérez, who relocated to New York City, began playing piano at age three. His father was a bandleader and vocalist, and by the time he was ten, he was studying at the National Conservatory in Panama. After college in Panama, where he studied electronics, Pérez moved to the U.S. to study at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He later transferred to the Berklee College...
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Panama 500, Danilo Perez
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