Jazz Brimming With Ideas

The New York Times: February 7, 2014

Danilo Pérez began his early set at the Jazz Standard on Thursday night with a busily efficient overture, laying out many of his themes and protocols for the ensuing hour.

Within the first minute of the piece, “Rediscovery of the South Sea,” there was an intriguing bramble of push-pull tensions between bass, violin and percussion; a more spacious motif that Mr. Pérez unhurriedly teased out at the piano; and a hale-sounding Yoruban chant by Roman Díaz, providing his own punctuation on a batá drum.

The evening’s program had been adapted from “Panama 500,” Mr. Pérez’s highly plotted, superarticulate, breezily ambitious new album (Mack Avenue). A distillation of ideas developed over roughly the last 15 years — mingling elements of classical form, jazz flexibility and Latin-American folk melody — it’s impressive for both its design and its execution, and for the strong implication that those two qualities are inextricable, even indivisible.

Mr. Pérez built the album around the expressive rapport of two longtime rhythm sections: one featuring the bassist Ben Street and the drummer Adam Cruz, members of his working trio; and the other featuring the bassist John Patitucci and the drummer Brian Blade, his fellow travelers in the Wayne Shorter Quartet.

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