Luis Perdomo: Walking Towards the Light
All the while he was picking up more gigs and his career grew step by step. "I like it more like that, slowly, but always progressing. Now that I think back, I wouldn't like to make it real big. The new sensation in town. Then two years later you don't hear from that person any more. Or you get frustrated. When I young I wish it would have been the other way [a big splash]. But now, looking back, it's actually cool because it's always getting better and better. But 2001 was a real good year for me. I would say it was something that really put me on the map." It included gigs with bassist John Benitez and saxophonist Miguel Zenón.
"In January, I started playing with John Patitucci and played in his band for a year. In February, I started playing with Ray Barretto. In April, I started playing with Ravi, doing some on and off stuff. At the same time I was playing with John Benitez, his trio. I was playing with Yosvany Terry. Dafnis Prieto. Bryan Lynch. I had a lot of work that year. Everything was really happening musically for me that year. I was also playing with Miguel Zenón already.
"Ever since 2001, it's always getting better. Getting better gigs. Teaching ... It's mostly straight jazz. It's funny because some people that don't really know me, they see my name and right away they assume that it's Latin jazz. A lot of the time it's not that. If a gig calls for me to play Latin jazz, that's what I play. But at this point, both are the same to me. I just say it's music."
He first recorded in 2003, for RKM, and has done numerous sessions as a sideman. Meanwhile, Perdomo is always listening, not just to the masters for influence, but younger players with energy and ideas. "I try to listen to everybody. Of the younger guys I've been listening a lot to Gerald Clayton. I really like his playing, his touch on the piano. Robert Glasper I like a lot. Of course I still listen to Cecil Taylor and people like that. I'm pretty open-minded. Anything that might bring some new ideas to my playing I'm open to. Even if there are styles I don't really like at the moment, I maybe give it six months or a year and listen to it again. You never know. When I was playing salsa at 10 or 11 years old, I didn't understand jazz and I didn't like it, even though my father was playing it all the time. Two years later, I started listening to it a lot. In a period of a year, I jumped from listening to Bud Powell and Bobby Timmons to listening to Cecil Taylor and people like that."
What he loves about jazz is "the freedom it gives you over some other styles. You can put different influences into jazz. You have to be careful to keep the balance if you want it to be jazz. It's very flexible to other influences. Also the improvisation. You can express yourself and use your own ideas. It's one of the best musics out there."
Early this year, Perdomo did a successful tour in Europe with Hans Glawischnig on bass and Johnathan Blake on drums. He wants to get to the point where his trio personnel are consistent. "So far, I don't have a lot of work with my group. So I usually keep a rotation of people who know my music and I use whoever is available," he says. "But I'm going to start using the same personnel more often. Look out for Luis Perdomo as a bandleader and the Luis Perdomo trio."
Luis Perdomo, Universal Mind (RKM Music, 2012)
Miguel Zenón, Alma AdentroThe Puerto Rican Songbook (Marsalis Music, 2011)
Ravi Coltrane, Blending Times (Savoy, 2009)
Luis Perdomo, Pathways (Criss Cross, 2008)
Luis Perdomo, Awareness (RKM Music, 2006)
Luis Perdomo, Focus Point (RKM Music, 2003)
Rebecca Coupe Francks, Check The Box (RCF Records, 2010)
E. J. Strickland, In This Day (Strick Muzik, 2009)
Conrad Herwig, The Latin Side of Wayne Shorter (Half Note Records, 2008)
Greg Tardy, Steps of Faith (Steeplechase, 2007)
Ravi Coltrane, Influx (Savoy, 2005)
Dafnis Prieto, About The Monks (Zoho Music, 2005)
Brian Lynch, Conclave (Criss Cross Jazz, 2005)
Miguel Zenón, Ceremonial (Marsalis Music, 2004)
Hans Glawischnig, Common Ground Ralph Irizarry and Timbalaye, Live at Birdland (RCA Victor, 1999)
Pages 1, 3, 5: Courtesy of Mariah Wilkins Artist Management LLC
Pages 2, 4: Hans Speekenbrink