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Danilo Perez Given Keys to Panama

On October 17, the hometown boy made good when Panama City Mayor Carlos Navarro presented pianist and composer Danilo Pérez with the “keys to Panama” in recognition of the cultural contributions he has made to his native country.

The honor has been in the cards for Pérez for some time. Known for his fusion of postbop jazz and Panamanian music, Pérez was named the U.S. Cultural Ambassador for Panama in 2000. This past September saw Panama’s first Annual Jazz Festival, which was founded by you know who.

Pérez is on a bit of a tear.

In addition to lugging around an extra pair of oversized keys, Pérez has been touring in support of his first new recording as a leader in three years, …Till Then (Verve). The album is a collection of jazzed-up contemporary-pop compositions from such artists as Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder and Ruben Blades.

While touring in support of …Till Then, Danilo Pérez and his trio, which includes drummer Adam Cruz and bassist Ben Street, recently taped a live in-studio performance for A&E’s Breakfast With the Arts Pérez, who is this week’s “A&E’s Artist of the Week,” will perform two songs from …Till Then: the original “Native Soul” and Cuban artist Silvio Rodríguez’ “Rabo de Nube.” Breakfast With the Arts will air Sunday, November 16 at 8 a.m.

If he wasn’t busy enough Pérez has also been pulling double duty, holding down the piano chair for Wayne Shorter’s quintet. He’ll be hitting the road with Shorter for a few dates in the coming months, beginning at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, where Pérez was recently named artistic director, and continuing with some festival dates in France.

But Pérez isn’t done with his trio. True to the old adage, they’ve been practicing and will take the stage of Carnegie Hall in February, where they will be joined by soprano sax great Steve Lacy. Here are the tour dates:

12/02/03 to 12/07/03 • Chicago, IL • Jazz Showcase (Danilo Perez Trio)

1/16/03 • Philadelphia, PA • Kimmel Center (Wayne Shorter Quintet)

1/21/03 to 1/25/03 • Paris, FR • Cite de la Musique (Wayne Shorter Quintet )

2/04/04 • New York, NY • Carnegie Hall (Danilo Perez Trio with Steve Lacy)

4/03/04 • Atlanta, GA • Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts (Danilo Perez Trio)

For more information on Danilo Pérez, including tour dates, news and a complete discography, visit or you can check out the October 2003 issue of JazzTimes for a full feature on the pianist.

Originally Published