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Weekend best bet: Danilo Perez's "Panama 500" a real voyage of discovery at Jazz Standard

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Saturday February 08, 2014

From NY Daily News

Danilo Perez’s “Panama 500” a real voyage of discovery at Jazz Standard
By: Wayne Lockwood

There are always two sides to every voyage of discovery.

Longtime Wayne Shorter Quartet pianist Danilo Perez found that out firsthand on his way to composing the intensely ambitious “Panama 500,” which was released this week on Mack Avenue and which he’s been premiering in New York all week at the Jazz Standard.

Perez had the concept of a full album telling the story of his native country from the time of its “discovery” by Vasco Nunez de Balboa in 1513 to the opening of the Panama Canal 100 years ago, straight to today, but found himself challenged by his own content after he started – and had to start over.

His first jolt came during the composition phase.

“When I started writing this, I was doing two commissions, one for Carnegie Hall for an octet and another in Toronto for a classical string quartet.,” Perez said. “Out of those experiences, something was coming out. Those pieces had that feeling about Panama already. Initially, I was going to go in another direction (for ‘Panama 500’).”

His next came when he played again at his own Panama Jazz Festival.

“That feeling of playing with all those people I’d worked with in a place that was being turned from an army base into a city of knowledge, all of that brought to me so many emotions when it was time to record.,” he said. “I just couldn’t perform the new material I had been writing. Those experiences made me go into another direction, to research.”

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