Panamanian-born pianist Danilo Pérez is the paragon of an international jazz citizen, a visionary leader who elevates and inspires communities around the world through his performances, educational programs and concert productions. As the founder and artistic director of the Panama Jazz Festival, he brings the music’s greatest artists into barrios to work with impoverished young musicians. He launched the Berklee Global Jazz Institute, which connects an international cadre of brilliant young musicians to the historical, social, and cultural roots of the sounds they study. And of course he’s an extraordinary composer and improviser who’s played a key role in Wayne Shorter’s late career resurgence.
Pérez was already one of jazz’s most widely acclaimed young pianists in 1996 via his work with Dizzy Gillespie and his first two recordings when he released Panamonk, his influential synthesis of Thelonious Monk’s compositions and Afro-Caribbean rhythms. On hand to power Pérez’s 20th anniversary celebration of the album’s release is his superlative trio with bassist Ben Street and drummer Adam Cruz. Ideally equipped to carry Monk into his second century, Pérez performs as part of the celebration of the composer’s centennial.