Danilo Perez Trio Meets Thelonious Monk: Live at the Kimmel Center
Perez indicated that he himself was partly inspired early on by Wynton Marsalis, who insightfully told him that musically, "New Orleans is the northern end of the Latin countries." Perez said, laughing, that, on his first exposure to Monk's music through the auspices of Jon Hendricks, "I didn't like it at all!" But with the help of Monk-inspired Steve Lacy, he grew to love Monk's use of augmented intervals and his ability to write in voices rather than chords.
Following the intermission, the group performed Perez's own "Panamonk," calling it "a very challenging piece," which included frequent shifts into diverse rhythms of both the Latin and straight-ahead variety, and where the influence of Bud Powell and Herbie Hancock could be heard in Perez's playing. "Straight, No Chaser" was brilliantly arranged and performed, while "Round Midnight" consisted of a beautiful piano solo with Bill Evans' impressionist influence shining through, and shades of Oscar Peterson as well. The set ended with "Think of One" and "Ask Me Now," building towards a climactic top-heavy salsa flavor. An encore of "Evidence" and "Four in One" emphasized Monk's stride rhythms, as if to thank him for the inspirations.
This and two upcoming "Jazz Up Close" concerts in December, 2010 and April 2011, are dedicated to Monk's influence. They are part of an ongoing series of concerts, curated by Perez over several years, which have provided some of the highest level performances heard in the Philadelphia area during that time. Perez deserves much credit for his creative force in organizing the series.