Ninth Annual Panama Jazz Festival Led By Artistic Director Danilo Pérez Announces 2012 Lineup
Festival Dates: January 16 – 21, 2012
Headlining Artists Include:
Omara Portuondo & Chucho Valdes, John Scofield, Tito Puente, Jr.,
Luis Bonilla, Charlie Sepulveda, Jed Levy, Teri Roiger & John Menegon
Festival Dedicated To Saxophonist Carlos Garnett
One of Panama’s most significant cultural events, the Ninth Annual Panama Jazz Festival will be held on January 16-21, 2012. Already a reference in the global jazz calendar and attracting more than an estimated 100,000 people since its inception, this year’s festival is dedicated to tenor saxophonist Carlos Garnett, one of the most prolific Panamanian-Americans in jazz, known for working with artists such as Miles Davis, Charles Mingus and Art Blakey, among others.
Among this year’s headliners are a Cuban duo featuring world renowned vocalist Omara Portuondo, whose career has spanned over half a century (known for her work with Buena Vista Social Club™, among others), with multi-GRAMMY® Award winning pianist Chucho Valdes; guitarist John Scofield, a stylistic chameleon consistently expressing himself in the vernacular of bebop, blues, jazz-funk, organ jazz, acoustic chamber jazz and orchestral idioms; drummer and bandleader Tito Puente, Jr., presented by ACER – son of legendary mambo musician Tito Puente with the Panama Jazz Festival Ensemble, under the direction of La Riqueña; Costa Rican trombonist Luis Bonilla with the New England Conservatory Jazz Ensemble; Puerto Rican, latin jazz trumpeter Charlie Sepulveda; Carlos Garnett‘s ensemble; saxophonist Jed Levy and his quartet, presented with the support of the U.S. Department of State and Jazz at Lincoln Center; and a duo featuring vocalist Teri Roiger and bassist John Menegon.
“For a week in January, Panama is the capital of jazz in Latin America,” states Festival founder & Artistic Director Danilo Pérez. “The festival continues to flourish and is now becoming an event that is a cultural reference in Latin America, with some of the biggest supporters of jazz music on the planet.”
Reflecting on this year’s honoree Pérez states, “Carlos Garnett is one of the best jazz saxophonists that came from Panama, who has played with some of the most important icons of jazz.”
Born and raised in Red Tank, Panama Canal Zone, Garnett taught himself to play saxophone as a teenager and played with soldiers from the nearby United States Army base. He moved to New York City in 1962, where he began to teach himself music theory (originally playing music by ear). In 1968, trumpeter Freddie Hubbard hired Garnett, introducing him to many distinguished New York-based jazz musicians. Hubbard’s 1969 album A Soul Experiment served as Garnett’s first recording session, contributing two compositions to the project. His career took flight following the session, working with Andrew Hill, Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Davis and Mingus, through the mid-1970s. He also recorded three projects as a leader during the same time period, which collectively featured artists such as Dee Dee Bridgewater, Billy Hart, Norman Connors, Buster Williams, and Anthony Jackson. In 1982, Garnett took a hiatus from music for personal reasons until 1991. He then returned with a new group and released several albums as a leader in the 1990s. In 2000 he moved back to Panama, where he continues to contribute to the country’s music community.
Garnett is the festival’s second living honoree; the first living honoree was trumpeter Victor “Vitín” Paz, celebrated at last year’s festival. Garnett will actively participate in educational programs/events.
Previous festivals have been dedicated to figures such as pianist Luis Russell, who worked as the Music Director for Louis Armstrong’s band beginning in 1935; pianist Victor Boa – known as the “Master of the Panamanian Keyboard”; flutist Mauricio Smith, who performed with a variety of musicians ranging from Mongo Santamaria to Charles Mingus; vocalist Barbara Wilson, whom Pérez once called “the Billie Holiday of Panama”; composer and bassist Clarence Martin Sr., who influenced several generations of Panamanian musicians from a wide range of musical styles; Ellerton Oswald, best known as Sonny White, who recorded with Billie Holiday; and Victor “Vitín” Paz, a staple in Panamanian popular music, working with masters such as Dizzy Gillespie, Nat King Cole, Benny Moré, Mario Bauzá, Tito Rodriguez, and Frank Sinatra.
The Panama Jazz Festival’s Commitment to Education
The educational component of the festival, where all invited artists will teach master classes and hold music clinics for students from all parts of Latin America, will be held at The City of Knowledge. During the festival, several institutions make Panama their Latin American musical hub, offering lessons and holding auditions for admission and scholarships to their different academic programs. The institutions that confirmed their participation this year include: Berklee College of Music and the Berklee Global Jazz Institute, New England Conservatory, Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico, and The Golandsky Institute.
“While the Panama Jazz Festival is a music festival, our intentions, our hopes, go well beyond music,” declares Pérez.”The festival was founded with the objective of contributing to the cultural, social, touristic, academic and economic strengthening of Panama.”
Pérez continues, “In 2011 we had more than 1,000 students from Panama, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Colombia, Chile, USA, Mexico, Honduras, France, Italy and Puerto Rico participate. Ultimately, an artist’s hidden work, offstage, in clinics, seminars and workshops – guiding our youth – is just as, or even more important than a performance onstage. There we are talking about giving our young tools to grow, discipline, good examples and, especially, hope and opportunities.”
Also of note among the festival’s educational programs, for the second consecutive year, the soon-to-be two year old Berklee Global Jazz Institute – based in Boston, MA and led by Pérez - will provide instruction, performances and will do social work with Panamanian youth. Additionally, The Golandsky Institute will once again offer a week-long program of daily master classes for jazz and classical pianists as well as other instrumentalists, emphasizing the application of the Taubman approach to build technical ease and to explore musical interpretation. This approach has proven to be highly effective in the resolution of technical and artistic limitations, as well as in curing and preventing repetitive stress injuries in musicians.
The Panama Jazz Festival also offers master classes on Panamanian Folkloric music taught by the Maestro of the Panamanian tambor, Ricaurte Villareal and classical music lessons with students and fellows from the New England Conservatory.
Underscoring its focus on education, the Panama Jazz Festival and the participating educational institutions have provided scholarships valued over 1.5 million dollars. “To educate a child, to offer opportunities, is also to change a family, a neighborhood, a city and perhaps a country,” states Pérez. “What we do is not just to educate better musicians but better citizens.”
About Danilo Pérez
Pianist, composer, educator and social activist, Danilo Pérez is among the most influential and dynamic musicians of our time.
Born in Panama in 1965, Pérez started his musical studies when he was three years old with his father, a bandleader and singer. By age ten, he was studying the European classical piano repertoire at the National Conservatory in Panama. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in electronics in Panama, he studied at the prestigious Berklee College of Music. From 1985-88, while still a student, he performed with Jon Hendricks, Terence Blanchard, Claudio Roditi and Paquito D’Rivera. Quickly established as a young master, he soon toured and/or recorded with artists such as Dizzy Gillespie (with the trumpeter’s United Nations Orchestra, 1989-1992), Wayne Shorter, Steve Lacy, Jack DeJohnette, Charlie Haden, Michael Brecker, Joe Lovano, Tito Puente, Wynton Marsalis, John Patitucci, Tom Harrell, Gary Burton, and Roy Haynes.
In 1993, Pérez turned his focus to his own ensembles and recording projects, releasing eight albums as a leader, earning a GRAMMY® and Latin GRAMMY® nominations for Central Avenue (1989), Motherland (2000) and Across The Crystal Sea (2008). Additionally, Pérez released Providencia, his debut Mack Avenue Records album in August of 2010. The album was also nominated for a 2011 GRAMMY® Award in the category of “Best Instrumental Jazz Album.”
While he continues to lead his own trio, featuring Ben Street and Adam Cruz, and remains a member of the Wayne Shorter Quartet, Pérez also serves as Artistic Director of the Panama Jazz Festival, Artistic Advisor of the Jazz Up Close series at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, Board Member at the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center, and Artistic Director of the Berklee Global Jazz Institute at Berklee College of Music.
Pérez, who served as Cultural Ambassador to the Republic of Panama and Goodwill Ambassador to UNICEF, has received a variety of awards for his musical achievements, activism and social work efforts. In 2009, he was one of five Panamanian individuals to receive the prestigious Legacy Award from The Smithsonian Latino Center in Washington D.C. The award recognizes Panamanian achievement in the arts, science and the humanities. Additionally, Perez was awarded the 2010 ASICOM International Award by the Ibero-American Association of Communication (ASICOM) and the University of Oviedo (Principality of Asturias). ASICOM gives this prize each year to individuals who have made or are making significant contributions in IBEROAMERICA, helping to build and rebuild that historical region through their work and vision. In 2010, he was also chosen as one of the Delaware Valley’s “Most Influential Latinos.”
The Panama Jazz Festival is made possible with the support of ATP (Tourism Authority of Panama), INAC (National Institute of Culture), The United States Embassy in Panama, The City Of Knowledge, and Mastercard, among other institutions.
The PJF contributes its proceeds to the Danilo Pérez Foundation educational programs.
For more information on the Panama Jazz Festival, visit:
Tickets for the Panama Jazz Festival are available online at tuboleto.com.
For media information, please contact:
DL Media · 610-667-0501