Danilo Perez weaves jazz tapestry of Panama past and present

The Bay State Banner: February 20, 2014

Pianist Danilo Perez’s music presents complexity, exuberance and a definitive sense of place expressed through tone and rhythmic authority.

“Panama 500” is the most recent CD recording by Perez, an exacting, often didactic collection of tunes that touch on politics and cultural hegemony. It is, as most of his works, a unique jazz achievement — a post bebop meditation that explores one of South America’s important countries.

“Panama 500” is a both celebration and a lament. At once it is a musical history of the country, a chronicle of its people and their contribution to world culture and invention. At the same time it is a tale of invasion and military conquest by the Spanish in the 16th century and the domination of the land’s indigenous people.

“Yeah, they discovered the Pacific,” said Perez, but he also noted that native people in the area were as advanced as the explorers Rodrigo de Bastidas and then, Christopher Columbus who found the country 500 years ago.

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