Jazzing it up in the city
PANAMA. Six years ago, Danilo Perez, Panama’s most noted musician of his generation, took it upon himself to give back to the land that...
PANAMA. Six years ago, Danilo Perez, Panama’s most noted musician of his generation, took it upon himself to give back to the land that nurtured his musical gifts by putting together the annual Panama Jazz Festival, designed to allow Panamanians to experience the talent and camaraderie of visiting, world-renowned musicians.
Today, the renowned pianist’s dream has turned into the largest jazz festival in the region, with more than 16,000 attendees expected this year.
"The Panama Jazz Festival has been a magical journey to a dream we've had for years in Panama," says Perez on a press release.
"We, as a country, see the entire world pass through the Panama Canal every day, and we are honored to be the bridge of the Americas.
“But today, we are proud to say that every year -- for the past six years -- the Panama Jazz Festival has been the national event where the world does not pass by, but makes a stop in our wonderful land.
“The world's best jazz artists, as well as students and volunteers from all over the globe, unite in Panama with one goal in mind: to celebrate the world's diversity through jazz."
Each year, the festival is dedicated to a Panamanian musician that has contributed to the development of jazz music at home or abroad.
The 2009 festival will be dedicated to the late bassist, composer, and arranger Clarence Martin Sr., whose contributions to Panamanian jazz date from the 1940s and have influenced several generations of musicians from many genres such as jazz, classical, and Caribbean music.
This year the festival will open with a gala concert at the National Theatre by a flamenco jazz group from Spain, sponsored by the Spanish Embassy.
The festival will be headlined by Cuban pianist Chucho Valdés, American jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter's acclaimed quartet with Danilo Perez, John Patitucci, and Brian Blade, and other international and regional artists.
A volunteer helping with the organization of the festival claims that Valdes will please audiences with a preference for Latin music, while listening to Wayne Shorter’s Quartet is nothing short of a spiritual experience.
Check out the attached table for a list of available concerts, ranging in size and price.
For a more informal setting, opt for one of the afternoon concerts at the Teatro Ascanio Arosemena.
Or get the festival’s full experience by making a night out of it, attending one of the three big night presentations: the Gala with Mediterranean jazz flamenco presented by the Spanish Embassy, or one of two more affordable performances in Teatro Anayansi.
But, one thing is sure, the event not to be missed is the free, open-air performance on the Cathedral Plaza in Casco Viejo. Nothing blends more beautifully than music by world-renowned performers and the historic buildings at the old city.
For one day, generational, political, and socio-economic barriers disappear as all gather together to enjoy the swirl of delightful sounds resonating from every corner of the historical plaza.
According to Perez, “one of the most incredible things that is happening is the involvement of people throughout the country from all social backgrounds.”
“You’ll see a poor kid from the countryside sitting next to a rich kid from the city at these concerts. That’s what we want.”
Although we at the Star highly suggest attending at least one of the concerts, the jazz festival will also be transmitted through television and radio and for those that are unable to attend.
Live transmission will start today Monday at 4:00 p.m. through SERTV channel 11, and through Radio Nacional (FM 101.9).
For more information on the festival: www.panamajazzfestival.com.
See you at the plaza!