Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Picking up where Dizzy left off

In the final five years of his career, trumpeter/bandleader Dizzy Gillespie celebrated and blended the pan-global influences that found a way into his music - and curiosity – throughout his career. He did so principally with his United Nation Orchestra.

Pianist Danilo Perez (pictured), who joined Gillespie’s pan-American in 1989, has picked up the torch. Later this month, Perez will begin touring six North American cities with his own new project, called “Things to Come: 21st Century Dizzy.” The global mix of musicians (by birth or heritage), in addition to Perez, includes saxophonists David Sanchez and Rudresh Mahanthappa, Amir ElSaffar on trumpet and voice, Jamey Haddad on percussion, Ben Street or John Patitucci on bass, and Adam Cruz on drums.

"The purpose of the music I'm doing right now is to really find common tones in the world; how we, through music, actually come together and become one in this day of acknowledging differences. I am acknowledging the common tones in the world and that oneness feeling. All those layers you see in this, how we as human beings, as individuals come together and create communities.”

That sounds like Gillespie talking. But it is Perez – paying forward the influences absorbed from the days when he was the newest - and youngest - member of Dizzy’s global group in the late 1980s and early 1990s (prior to Dizzy’s 1993 passing).

This project is a natural for performer and educator Perez, because it is an extension of his other projects:
- Artistic Director of the Berklee College of Music's newly formed Global Jazz Institute.
- Artistic Director of the Kimmel Center's "Jazz Up Close" series.
- Artistic Director and founder of the annual Panama Jazz Festival.
- Long-standing member of Wayne Shorter’s quartet.

Perez says Things To Come: 21st Century Dizzy” will showcases music that simultaneously addresses the culture of Panama, the culture of Latin music as interpreted by jazz musicians, and classic jazz repertoire together with his compositions and new arrangements of classic Gillespie tunes).

Check them out, starting March 19 at Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center or over the following eight weeks in Toronto, New York, Ann Arbor, Minneapolis and Chicago. The full schedule is at Perez’s Web site.

Perez recently signed with Mack Avenue Records. Hopefully “21st Century Dizzy” will be his first release.

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