Panamanian pianist Danilo Pérez taught studio and coached ensembles in NEC's jazz department from 1995 through 2009. During this time, he also founded the Panama Jazz Festival in his native country, and brought NEC students and faculty to perform at each of its first six occurrences, 2004 through 2009.
Pérez, a recognized leader in the new generation of jazz musicians, has earned numerous Grammy nominations for his ebullient and innovative blend of jazz, Latin and world music styles. His 2000 recording Motherland (Verve) won Best Jazz Album for 2001 from the prestigious Boston Music Awards, which awarded him top honors, twice, for previous albums. Pérez’s earlier CDs—Danilo Pérez (1992), The Journey (1994), Panamonk (1996), Central Avenue (1998)—have also earned awards, favorable acclaim and annual Top Ten citations from DownBeat, Jazziz, Jazz Times, The New York Times, The Village Voice, Billboard, The Los Angeles Times, and the Best Artist in Performance Award from the New York Jazz Awards.
Pérez has become one of the most influential pianist/composers in contemporary jazz since stepping into the spotlight during his 1989–92 tenure in Dizzy Gillespie’s United Nation Orchestra. Currently, in addition to touring with his Motherland Project band and his trio, Pérez performs and records with the Wayne Shorter Quartet and the Roy Haynes Trio, and is featured on Shorter’s Grammy-winning releases Footprints Live, Alegria, and Beyond the Sound Barrier. Since the late 1980s, Pérez has also had the honor of touring and/or recording with Jack DeJohnette, Steve Lacy, Charlie Haden, Michael Brecker, Jon Hendricks, Joe Lovano, Tito Puente, Wynton Marsalis, Claudio Roditi, Paquito D’Rivera, John Patitucci, Tom Harrell, Arturo Sandoval, Gary Burton, and other notable jazz musicians.
Pérez currently serves as Ambassador of Goodwill for UNICEF, Cultural Ambassador of his native Panama, President and Founder of the Panama Jazz Festival, and Artistic Advisor of the innovative Mellon Jazz Up Close series at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia.
Studies at Berklee College of Music. Recordings on Verve, Impulse/GRP, Enja, RCA/Novus, Messidor, Telarc.
Photo by Andrew Hurlbut