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Fearless withthe
Latin piailo ma5ter by Resen
lazz pianist, oomposer,and educator hushedtonesof the orchestra. A triumphof beingin the middleof the Americas,there
DaniloPerezhasbeenplayingcloseto the ensembleinterplay,AcrossThe Crystal Sea are manydifferentinfluencesand cultures
edgefor overtwo decades.Fromhis is a welcomesurprisefroma performer with comingtogether.So I grew up with a lot of
GrammyAward-winning workwith bebop a penchantfor the unexpected. diversity.The radioin Panamaat that time
pioneerDizzyGillespieto his recentefforts Perezcallsme from his homein Boston, was called"No Formatl'So you'dhear
with legendaryartistslikeWayneShorter Massachusetts, on the eveningof his PapaLucafrom PuertoRico,and then
and RoyHaynes,the giftedPanamanian departureto Panama- wherehe servesas VadimirHorowitz,and thenMarvinGaye,
performerdemonstrates a keenabilityto artisticdirectorand founderof the Panama and MichaelJackson.So that'show I
blendelementsfromLatin,jazz,and world JazzFestival- to talk abouthis influences, thoughtthingsweresupposedto be nor-
musicintoa progressive styleall his own. his latestalbum,and his reputationfor play- mally,and I developeda lovefor music
Perezhas skillfullynavigateda wide array ing "withouta netl' beyondboundaries. I playeda lot of gigs in
of musicalformatsin his recordingcareeras Panama,evenplayingaccordion.I played
a leader.Fromthe classicpianotrio sound You are consistently mentioned tango,Brazilian, and salsawith my father's
of his 1996 releasePanamonklothe Latin- among musicians as someone who band- musicwas alwayspresentedin a
meets-bebopflairof his Grammy-nominated isn't afraid to challenge conventions. diverseway to me.So the environment was
albumMotherlan4his recordedsolo works Many people, including Herbie crucial,and myfamilyand theirsupport
are as impressivefor their breadthof imagi- Hancod<and Wayne Shorter, and werecrucialas well in givingme this sense
nationas theyarefor theirtechnicalmastery. younger musicians like Aaron Parks, of freedomand the abilityto takechances
He continually pushesmusicalboundaries have all called you "feallessl'Where and enjoythe process.
aside, looking for new sonicstoriesto tell;in does that gense of adventure come Who were some of the mentors that
the words of Herbie Hancock.*DaniloPerez from? helped you refine your musical iden'
is not afraidof anythingl I thinkthat for all of my life,eversinceI was a tity, and helped instill this kind of free'
Now with the releaseof hiseighthouting kid,I was fearless.I startedworkingwhen I dom in your playing?
as a leader,Across TheCrystalSea,Perez was 12 yearsold with myfather,playingat I'm extremelygratefulto my mentors.I really
onceagainproveshisskilland adventur- nightin hisband,andhavingresponsibility. havebeenaroundthe mastersof adventure,
ousness.With lushstringarrangements by Also,the entireenvironment mymotherand like Dizzy,and saxophonistLee Konitz,who
the legendaryClausOgerman and ace pro- fatherprovidedme with was veryadventur- ljust wenton the roadwith in November
ductionand engineering work by Tommy ous - theyput me intosituationsthat were with the trio.Really,he'sso inspiring.He's
LiPumaandAl Schmitt,Pereztacklesthe verychallenging. I went to one of the 82, andto see himon the roadwas amaz-
art of orchestralrecordingwith the same toughestschoolsin Panama- a great ing.He hasso muchenergy.He gets up
pioneering spirithe broughtto hisrrrefious school,but full of diversityas far as people's and practices- then we would go and play
albums.Not contentto simplymakea con- backgroundswereconcerned.Myfather duetswithouta script.He hasso much
ventionalrecordwith strings,Perezfloats thoughtthatif I couldsurvivein thatenviron- determination. lt mademe cry sometimes,
acrossthe bar linesas if he werea fellow mentfromearlyon,with my parents'guid- Thenof course,playingwith Wayne
stringinstrument himself,pushing,prod- ancefor support,then I'd havea lot of [Shortedhas convertedme. This is the
ding,and liftingthe arrangements to new opportunities to workthingsoutas I grewup. only way I know how to play now.Wayne
heights.He playswith an acuteawareness Anotherreallyimportantthingis that taught us that struggleleadsyou into
of space,phrasingartfullyamidstthe becauseof Panama'slocationas a country, placesthat are exciting.He alwayssays,

30 r t Y r ot B D o4. 2 o o s
"How can you rehearsethe unknown?" classical person. He wanted it to have
The new album Across The Crystal a universal effect. A Selected
Sea is surprising in that the Piano Exactly. Danilo Perez
doesn't dominate the soundscape. lt's Are there plans to tour the record with Discography
an integral part of the entire ensem' an orchestra?
ble, unlike many records that soloists Thisis something that is happeningnatu- As a l,,eader
record with orcfiestras. Was it difficult rally,so I haveto get myselfreadytor it. Acnss Soa(Yeno)
to assume that kind of role? We had no expectationsat all, but we're (ArtistSharc)
Iivett lheJaz thorcr$g
Very.What madethat recordso challeng- gettingso manyrequeststo do it, I'm . . .lill Thcntlene)
ing for me was to do it underthe eyesof workingon it now.Probablyat the end of Moficrland(Polygnn)
what ClauslOgerman]was seeing,to 2009 we'regoingto do somedates.I'm Panannk(lnpulsell
interpretthe illusionshe envisioned. Mak- reallyexcitedabout how it happenedon ilmiloPenzltwusl
ing that albumis anotherexampleof adven- its own. Peoplereallywant to hearthe
ture.When I heardit finishedI was like, musiclive. Wilh David Sanclrez
"Wow,that'swhat he had in mind.Okay!" You'le teaching now at both the Ealfrral (Concord)
I learneda lot throughthat project, Berklee College of Music and the New
becauseit put me in a situationthat was England Conservatoryof Music in With Wayne Shoiler
verychallenging. We didn'trecordwith the Boston. What kinds of things are you theSouml
Eeyond EaniutVawel
orchestra,so one thingI hadto be very instilling in your students? Alegrie(thwel
awareof was wherethe musicalwindows I teachpiano,ensemble,and composition
were- otherwisetherecouldhavebeena to differentinstrumentalists, frompianists With Lizz Wrighr
trainwreck! to drummersand hornPlaYers. MY Salt(Yerve)
So you actually recorded with iust the approach is always an individual one for
rhythm section, and the strings were each specific student. I don't haveanypre- Wilh Roy Haynes Tlio
added afterwards? set ideas of how to teach the kids.I focus lrio(Uene)
Exactly.I wish peoplecould haveseenthe on how to help each individual, and that's
entireprocessof how this projectwas how I've been teaching for Years. Wlth Dlzzy GillesPle and
made,becauseit was amazing. We hadto Forexample,I listento somebodyand The Unlted Nations
try and readthe mindof Clausthe entire focuson what fheywantto do, what kind Orchestla
time.He hadthisthinghe was hearingin of piecestheywantto play.I act in a guid- Liveatiln floyalFrlslival
his head.He told me,"Danilo,you know ancerole,with openfeedbackbetweenthe
what I lovein yourplaying?The immediacy studentand me.I don't havejust one sys- "Danilo,you guysarethe mastersof the
of it. There'sa senseof redemptionin it, in tem that I teachfrom.But I do teachthings unseen.Youare makingsomethingvisible
the momentl'As a matterof fact, he didn't that I thinkarevaluableto know I always out of the invisiblei'And I thought,wow -
sayto trustin the commontones- | liketo we all havethat ability.As musicians, we
send me the musicuntilthe lastminute.I
figuredout that he didn'twant me to really focuson what bringsus together,not what are creatingmusicon the spot, but we
knowit, becausehe wantedit to be fresh is differentbetweenus.Thisis something are alsotuningintothe frequencies that
in my ears. that reallyinterestsme. mightactuallygeneratecommunication
Did he arrange the string parts based At one point on your recient Live At on a verydeep level.In otherwords,I see
on what you guys laid down in the ini' The tazz Showcase album, it sounds it as a big responsibilityto be creative.
tial recording sessions? as if, when youtre soloing, your hands There are moments You have when
No,lthinkhe hadthemready.He didn'twant ale crossing each other and playing you'le playing and communicating as
rehearsals. What he hadwere ideasabout two completely independent lines. lt's a musician that you actually think to
moods.He told me,"Thisis goingto be very totally unexpected - and I guess, yourself, "lf people could get along
challenging. Youhavethismanybarsof open totally nolmal for you, since you don't like this in real life, the world would
piano,and I wantyouto colorlikethisl'He think adventure is scary' but that it's be okayl' ls that the kind of responsi'
was describingwhat he wantedin a different the only way you know how to move bility you're talking about?
way.Forexample,heaskedme,"Doyouknow forward. That'sit, man.I thinkmusiciansnowadaysare
Christina Branco?"And I said,"Nol'Andhe Exactly.One thingthat has becomeclear becomingimmediately morerelevantwith all
replied,"She'sa PortugeseFadosinger. to me that myfatherusedto sayfromearly the strugglesgoingon in the world.We need
Checkherout - shehasredemption in her on, is that musicis a powerfultool,and it moreof themto get involved,andteachthe
singingandplayingl'He alsotalkedabout can helpus generatea greaterapprecia- valuesthat the musichastaughtus' Youcan
not havingthe solosovertakethe music. tion of the lifewe live. show peoplethe valueand powerof team-
So there was a teal focus on simplic' One time we playedon the West worh not onlyin music,but in life. E
ity, like he wanted the music to reach Coast,and CarlosSantanacame and said
more than just a iazz person 01 a somethingI will neverforget.He said, visitwwv.danilopercz.c

32 r ( E Y t ot no o4. 2 o o g

(Decca U.S.)

On his latest releaseAsoss The Crydal usinga palateof richharmonicoptions, contrast.He artfullyavoidsplayinga stan-
Sea, DaniloPerezmasterfullymixesjazzand fromwhichhe creatively colorsbothhis dardmontunohere,choosingto liftthe
Latintextures,creatinga musicaldialogue accompaniment and improvisations. songwith a rhythmically-charged figurethat
all hisown.Perez'sinnateabilityto comp A good exampleof Perez'sadventurous evokesboth Bill Evansand the Pat Metheny
(accompany)conversationally makeshim harmoniccompingcan be foundon the Group'sLyleMays. E
one of the mostsought-after pianistsin Latin-tingedtitle track of Across The Crystal
modernjazz.Hedoesn'tjust playthe chords Sea.Pereznavigatesa four-barchord pat- interuiew
fleadJonRegen's with0anilo0npage30.
in a composition - he bringsthemto life ternwith a keensenseof colorand visit

Fm7 DbmaiT

Ex.1.llen'sa nlalivelystandard
voicea four-barFn7-0[ najTyogression

0l thengrm,
Er.l. Instead Perez optsforanopen, sound,
expensive colors,
fullofexlension-rich here't{oticehowheemploys
upper chord whileatthesame
toneslikethellth and13thin hisvoicings, rhythmically
limecomping thesong.

Er 3.Whntto addharmonic ercilemenl toy0urownchord iustlikeoanilo

voicings, Penz
does? Tryerploringtre wailablecolorc on r given chordandcreatingyour gwnlgne clustsrs'
Youcan voim a fm chord in almost inliniteways, those
including shown hen' Playftruugh
his example,$rentrybuilding youruwnvoicings bycombining chotd
available tonesinto
intensling-sounding similar
clusters, to ftese.lte more you
voicings can cnrteandhe
mon youexplom, ilts closeryou'll
be to dweloping a uniqus, sound'