Danilo Perez – Providencia – Mack Avenue Records – MAC1052, 50:22 *****:
(Danilo Perez – acoustic piano, Fender Rhodes, percussion, melodica; Ben Street – bass; Adam Cruz – drums, steel pan; Jamey Haddad – percussion; Ernesto Diaz – congas; Rudresh Mahanthappa – alto saxophone; Sara Serpa – vocals; Matt Marvuglio – flute; Barbara Laffitte – oboe; Amparo Edo Biol – French horn; Margaret Phillips – bassoon; Jose Benito Meza Torres – clarinet)
Starting a musical career at the age of three could have a negative effect on an individual. In the case of Danilo Perez, it initiated a lifelong quest for self discovery. By the age of ten, he was studying piano with the National Conservatory in Panama. He would eventually attend the Berklee School of Music to begin his education in jazz composition. Inspired by the works of Ellington, Coltrane, Gershwin and Thelonious Monk, Perez would collaborate with diverse talents as Dizzy Gillespie (a mentor), Wayne Shorter, Terence Blanchard, Wynton Marsalis, Randy Brecker, Tito Puente, Gary Burton, and a host of others.
His commitment to Panama and music education would also prevail with the founding of the Panama Jazz Festival and his status as artistic director of the Berklee Global Jazz Institute. However, his family, including two daughters, has served as an inspiration that has defined the intent of his art.
Providencia is a multi-faceted representation of his cultural vision. Utilizing his trio mates, Ben Street (bass) and Adam Cruz (drums), Perez has enhanced the songs with the addition of woodwinds, percussion and vocals. The opening track, “Daniela’s Chronicles” is a five-movement piece that opens with a classical piano solo, transitions into a Latin-tinged folk sound with an adroit steel pan augmentation, and moves gracefully into a smoother jazz ending. The use of a woodwind quintet on the “Bridge Of Life” tracks injects a tight, skillful arrangement of woodwinds that elevates the trio dynamics. The opus contemplates the role of Panama as a bridge to the two Americas. A further discourse on the intensity of the country’s psyche is delivered with urgency on “Galactica Panama” a harder bop interplay highlighted by Perez’s sparkling flourishes and the piercing saxophone of Rudresh Mahanthappa.
The title track, “Providencia” is soulful, with a notable “wordless” vocal by Sara Serpa and a breezy rhythm shift. Again, Perez’s piano dexterity plays deftly against the singing. The haunting “Historia De Un Amor” (a standard by Carlos Eleta Almaran ), and the tender “Irremediablemente Solo” (a composition by Panamanian composer, Avelino Munoz) demonstrate a sensitivity for articulating the artistic conception of others.
This is an ambitious project, marked by deep personal commitment and global vision.
TrackList: Daniela”s Chronicles; Galactic Panama; Historia de un Amor; Bridge of life Part 1; Providencia; Irremediablemente Solo; The Oracle (Dedicated to Charlie Banacos); Bridge of Life Part 2; The Maze: The End
— Robbie Gerson