Between January 14 and 19, 2019, Panama will be the vital jazz center of the world.
Edition #16 of the Panama Jazz Festival, presided over by the brilliant Panamanian pianist Danilo Pérez will be, as in previous years, a high end cultural event
It has been long. Too long. But I still remember it as if it was just the day before yesterday. Celebrated Panamanian pianist Danilo Pérez, a notable world class jazz figure, was returning to Panama to present Central Avenue, a musical production from those times. He was a young musician, barely over thirty, and I was set to interview him for a culture magazine. His obsessive intensity, along with his irrepressible desire to become an agent of change and growth for the Panamanian culture, really captivated me. Very soon, that dream would start to come true. Shortly after the interview, in 2003, Danilo presented the first edition of the Panama Jazz Festival, an event he created and continues to direct. In 2019 it reaches its 16th edition.
During each and every one of its editions, the festival has grown and demonstrated its potential for musical expression and educational transformation, crossing barriers and extending its reach well beyond musical shows. The festival powerfully emphasizes the education related to music, becoming one of the largest musical teaching events in the entire region. Additionally, the festival has become throughout the years a great attraction for visitors, bringing in more than 300,000 people from all corners of the world.
Panama Jazz Festival 2013 with Ruben Blades / Courtesy: Danilo Perez Foundation
For the 2019 edition of the Panama Jazz Festival, we want to highlight three artists that shine with their own light. The festival will homage legendary Panamanian trombonist Alex Blake and his jazz musician family. Blake started his musical path with musical giant Sun Ra and his Arkestra, becoming one of the mayor jazzy fusion voices ‘round the 70’s. If you would like to begin prepping for Blake’s show at the Panama Jazz Festival, you can listen to a fundamental recording made in 2,000: Now Is the Time: Live at the Knitting Factory. In this album alongside Blake we have the fabulous saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, plus Victor Jones, John Hicks and Neil Clarke.
Alex Blake / Courtesy: Danilo Perez Foundation
Also the Panama Jazz Festival will have the sparkling Jane Bunette and her group Maqueque. Since the 80’s Bunette started to immerse herself in the wonderful depths of Cuban music. Since then Bunette experimented mixing the intricate rythm patterns of traditional Cuban music with audacious contemporary jazz. Maqueque is a sextet wholly formed by ladies; Jane Bunette herself, and five amazing Cuban ladies, excellent instrumentalists and vocalists. Maqueque has become one of the most outstanding Northamerican jazz scene groups. They have participated in festivals such as Newport and Monterey, they were nominated to a Grammy award for their Album Oddara and were chosen as one of the top ten best jazz groups by Downbeat magazine.
Jane Bunette and her group Maqueque / Courtesy: Danilo Perez Foundation
For his most recent project, Danilo Pérez has proposed a humanitarian and creative goal, one of great relevance. With his Global Messengers, Danilo Pérez seeks to “regain the function of the artist as a tool to redirect humanity in a positive direction”.
Members of the Global Messengers come from the United States, Palestine, Greece, Jordan and Panama. Farayi Malek (voice), Vasilis Kostas (laouto), Layth Al-Rubaye (violin), Naseem Alatrash (cello), Tareq Rantisi (percussion), and Danilo Pérez (piano) have united their talents to generate impact music, through beautiful melodies and amazing rhythms. It is a form of musical expression that aims to bring out in their listeners the old sensation of building community sense through music. During the Panama Jazz Festival, Danilo Pérez’s Global Messengers will be premiering a new musical composition in charge of the Panama City Hall in celebration of the 500 years founding of Panama city and its status as Ibero-American Capital of Culture 2019.
Members of the Global Messengers / Courtesy: Danilo Perez Foundation
As every year, the festival will close with a free outdoor concert. In a single stage you can enjoy a variety of artists who previously paraded through the festival stages during the week. Traditionally, this concert is a true celebration of pleasant conviviality and musical expressions that are born and expand under the delicious sun of the Panamanian summer.
Panama Jazz Festival.
January 14 to 19, 2019.
For more information, please visit: www.panamajazzfestival.com