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7 Panama Jazz Festival


Panama’s annual cornerstone cultural event, the seventh Panama Jazz Festival will be held January 11-16, 2010. With upwards of 100,000 people in attendance since the festivals 2003 inception, this year’s edition is dedicated to Panamanian pianist, Ellerton Oswald (better known as Sonny White), noted for his work as Billie Holiday’s accompanist and his role in the production of her seminal recording Strange Fruit. About Oswald, Artistic Director and Festival founder Danilo Pérez commented, “despite the lack of information in Panama about this extraordinary artist, whose career in the United States dates back to the 1930’s, his participation on Strange Fruit was considered ground breaking.” Oswald was also best remembered for his collaborations with such jazz greats as Sidney Bechet and Dexter Gordon.

Among the artists slated to perform are Grammy award winning saxophonist Joe Lovano, the famed New Orleans pianist Ellis Marsalis, Grammy award winning vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater, Grammy award winning bassist John Patitucci, drummer and composer Terri Lyne Carrington, percussionist Jamey Haddad, flamenco guitarist Juanito Pascual, and saxophonist Carlos Garnett.

“I love seeing our festival grow. We had the biggest theater in Panama sold out in 2009 with the Wayne Shorter Quartet, and the free outdoor concert had 10,000 people,” states Artistic Director Danilo Pérez. “I can say now Panama and Latin America have some of the biggest supporters of jazz music on the planet!”

The Panama Jazz Festival’s Commitment to Education

A core mission of the Panama Jazz Festival is music education. This year the Panama Canal Authority will sponsor classrooms, where all invited artists will teach master classes and hold music clinics for students from all parts of Latin America. Several institutions make Panama their Latin American musical hub, offering lessons and holding auditions for admission and scholarships to their different academic programs. This year the institutions confirmed include Berklee College of Music, New England Conservatory, Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico, and The Goldansky Institute.

“The educational component of the festival is the highlight of all the annual programs we do at the Danilo Pérez Foundation in Panama,” explains Pérez. “In 2009 we had almost 1,000 students from Panama, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Colombia, Chile, USA, Mexico. This year, we are expanding to European countries and hope to have even more students.”

The Berklee Global Jazz Institute, based in Boston, MA and led by festival Artistic Director, Danilo Pérez, will officially be announced in front of national and international vip guests during the PJF Gala Night. The Global Jazz Institute is designed to foster creativity in an interdisciplinary environment. It is to become a center of musical creativity that will emphasize personalized goal-setting, directed study, experiential and service learning with a special emphasis on nature and the environment, along with intensive access to world-class visiting artists.

Also of note among the festival’s educational programs, The Golandsky Institute, will offer a week-long program of daily master classes for jazz and classical pianists as well as other instrumentalists, emphasizing the application of the Taubman approach to build technical ease and to explore musical interpretation. This approach has proven to be highly effective in the resolution of technical and artistic limitations, as well as in curing and preventing repetitive stress injuries in musicians. At the 2010 PJF, Edna Golandsky will give private lessons and instruct a class on the proper use of computer and Blackberry keyboards so as not to harm playing.

The Panama Jazz Festival also offers master classes on Panamanian Folkloric music taught by Maestro of the Panamanian tambor, Ricaurte Villareal, dance with members of the Panamanian National Ballet, classical music with renowned national and international musicians from Panama and the New England Conservatory, a literature program and a technology program with the Technology Division of Berklee College of Music, as well as a summer music program for children aged 4-16 years.

Festival President and Founder Danilo Pérez

Festival President and Founder Danilo Pérez

A Grammy award-winning artist, composer, educator, President and Founder of the Panama Jazz Festival, Danilo Pérez is among the most influential and dynamic musicians of our time. In just over a decade, his distinctive blend of Pan-American jazz (covering the music of the Americas, folkloric and world music) has attracted critical acclaim and loyal audiences. Pérez has recorded and performed with the likes of Wayne Shorter, Steve Lacy, Roy Haynes, Jack DeJohnette, Charlie Haden, Michael Brecker, Joe Lovano, Tito Puente, and Wynton Marsalis, among others. Recently signed to Mack Avenue Records and plans to release his debut Mack Avenue Records album in 2010.

Born in Panama in 1965, Danilo started his musical studies at just three years of age with his father, a bandleader and singer. By age 10, he was studying the European classical piano repertoire at the National Conservatory in Panama. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in electronics, he moved to the United States to enroll at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and, after changing his major to music, transferred to the prestigious Berklee College of Music. From 1985-88, while completing his studies in jazz composition, he performed with Jon Hendricks, Terence Blanchard, Claudio Roditi and Paquito D’Rivera, producing the critically-acclaimed Reunion album (Messidor) featuring D’Rivera and Arturo Sandoval. In 1994, Danilo also appeared on Sandoval’s Grammy-winning album, Danzon.

Pérez is also a part of the Wayne Shorter Quartet, voted “Best Small Ensemble of the Year” by the Jazz Journalists Association in 2002 and 2004. He is featured on Shorter’s Verve releases, Alegria and Footprints Live! Shorter invited Danilo to join his first all-acoustic group after hearing him play, “[Pérez] was adventurous and fresh,” Shorter observes (Jazz Times, 2002). “He wasn’t playing to show off his technique. He was interested in telling stories.”

Currently, Pérez serves as the Ambassador of Goodwill for Unicef, Cultural Ambassador of Panama, Artistic Advisor of the innovative Mellon Jazz “Up Close” series at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, and Artistic Director of the Berklee Global Jazz Institute in Boston. For the last five years he has performed with Ben Street and Adam Cruz in his own trio.

Pérez recently signed with Mack Avenue Records. The signing was made official at the 2009 Detroit International Jazz Festival and he is planning to release his debut Mack Avenue album in 2010.

Additionally, in October, Pérez was one of five Panamanian individuals to receive the prestigious Legacy Award from The Smithsonian Latino Center in Washington D.C. The award recognizes Panamanian achievement in the arts, science and the humanities.

The Panama Jazz Festival is made possible with the support of ATP (Tourism Authority of Panama), INAC (National Institute of Culture) and ACP (Panama Canal Authority).


..:: Source: DL Media ::..