4 March 2011

Danilo Pérez

 "Danilo Pérez was born in Panama in 1966. He is considered one of the finest contemporary pianists and jazz composers of our era.  Danilo started his musical training at 3 years old with his father Danilo Sr, a professional bandleader and singer, gave Danilo Jr. his first set of bongos. By the time he was 10 years of age he was studying the European Classical Piano repertoire at the National Conservatory in Panama, eventually transferring to the Berklee College of Music to study Jazz composition and then serving as a professor at the New England Conservatory of Music. While growing up in Panama, Perez was notably influenced by the works of Gershwin, Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, and his mentor in spirit Thelonious Monk."

We had the opportunity to see Danilo Pérez and his band live as part of a Jazz festival in France.  Central Avenue is Pérez's fourth album.  "Central Avenue, earned in 1998 the Grammy nomination for best Jazz album of the year. Central Avenue is a blend of blues, folk songs, a sprinkling of Caribbean influence and some Middle Eastern melodies thrown in for added spice. Tommy LiPuma, who worked with Perez on PanaMonk, produced the album. Central Avenue is a combination of all the cultures that can be encountered.He arranged the ensemble of bassists John Pattutucci and Avishai Cohen, and drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts. Most of the songs were done in one take in order so to not lose the freshness of the session. The only song not done in one take was "Panama Blues." For that song, which features Panamanian folk singer Raul Vital, Perez recorded the folksinger and his chorus of mejorana singers in the mountain regions of Panama and then brought the recording back to New York where he and his ensemble added their musical touch. Mejorana is an improvisational style of singing where the singers can go on for hours, especially when supplied with alcohol. Perez told Graybow of Billboard, "[I heard] the blues in their voices, much like the blues down in Mississippi," and instantly wanted to record them. But, Perez didn't want to take the singer out of his environment and thus lose the influence."  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danilo_P%C3%A9rez

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