Danilo Pérez' Panama Jazz Festival - changing lives through music and community

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Monday January 19, 2015

From The New York Times
By Melena Ryzik

PANAMA ‘” In the wee hours of Friday morning, Danilo Pérez climbed onstage at his jazz club here to play a set. Mr. Pérez, the Panama-born pianist and composer who has for more than a decade been a member of Wayne Shorter’s acclaimed quartet, had already headlined shows for the Panama Jazz Festival, which he founded 12 years ago. There he had performed alongside the Puerto Rican saxophonist Miguel Zenón and his fellow Panamanian, the salsa singer Rubén Blades, and in the festival’s gala concert at the 106-year-old National Theater.

And here he was, at 1:30 a.m. Friday, sitting behind the grand piano in the intimate Danilo’s Jazz Club, the city’s only performance space dedicated exclusively to jazz, now packed with friends and visitors. He was joined by John Patitucci, the Shorter quartet bassist, and a host of international musicians and students, eager to improvise alongside the masters. Nêgah Santos, 24, a Brazilian powerhouse in denim shorts, gave her congas a workout; Samuel Batista, 24, a Panamanian in his third year at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, drew full-throated cheers with his saxophone. The jam lasted until closing time, and afterward Mr. Pérez gathered his young charges at a cocktail table to dispense encouragement and wisdom. ‘This kind of thing wakes you up, right?’ he said, grinning.

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