127

Danilo Perez: The Motherland Project

David Adler By

Sign in to view read count
Village Vanguard, NYC
March 2001

Danilo Perez’s Motherland was named the top jazz album of 2000 by Ben Ratliff of the New York Times. A sprawling, highly ambitious piece of work, the disc took musical influences from Perez’s native Panama and wove them into a pan-African, pan-Latin, pan-jazz manifesto that leapt out of the speakers. It was the musical equivalent of an IMAX film, and it featured a large cast of guest musicians, including Claudia Acuña, Richard Bona, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Chris Potter, and many more. How would Perez ever pare the behemoth down to a live show?
The pianist answered this question with swaggering nonchalance when he brought his "Motherland Project" to the Village Vanguard last month. Joining the extroverted leader were Donny McCaslin on multiple reeds (he played mostly soprano sax during the set in question), Essiet Essiet on acoustic and electric bass, and Adam Cruz on drums and steel pan. This streamlined quartet cooked with an intensity that elicited heated vocal approbation from the crowd — not to mention Perez, who shouted with delight every time a soloist reached a new peak of creativity. All the forward-thinking conceptual underpinnings of Perez’s album were there, but the emphasis, of necessity, was on blowing rather than epic production. And blow they did. Astonishing lines and harmonies filled the room every time Perez laid hands on the keyboard. The leader’s interplay with Cruz was particularly inspired. And when Perez picked up the melodica, he transformed what is often seen as a silly novelty instrument into something most hip.
Perez and band drew from pieces found on Motherland, but these were launching pads for improvisation rather than explicit, by-the-book readings. Still, the melodies and riffs from "Suite for the Americas" and "Panama 2000" rang out, though fleeting and fragmentary. At this point in time, Perez’s live and studio concepts are poles apart, but a single vision animates them both. One only wishes that some of his sizzling live material could be experienced by a wider public. Alas, a live release from Verve probably isn’t in the cards, but one can hope.


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Herbie Hancock at the Gaillard Center Music Hall Live Reviews Herbie Hancock at the Gaillard Center Music Hall
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: October 23, 2017
Read Redwood City Salsa Festival 2017 Live Reviews Redwood City Salsa Festival 2017
by Walter Atkins
Published: October 17, 2017
Read AJAZZGO Festival in Cali, Colombia Live Reviews AJAZZGO Festival in Cali, Colombia
by Mark Holston
Published: October 13, 2017
Read "FORQ at The World Cafe Live" Live Reviews FORQ at The World Cafe Live
by Mike Jacobs
Published: August 18, 2017
Read "Rigas Ritmi 2017" Live Reviews Rigas Ritmi 2017
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: July 12, 2017
Read "The Cookers at Nighttown" Live Reviews The Cookers at Nighttown
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: February 16, 2017
Read "Freihofer's Saratoga Jazz Festival 2017" Live Reviews Freihofer's Saratoga Jazz Festival 2017
by R.J. DeLuke
Published: July 5, 2017
Read "The Victor Wooten Trio at The Ardmore Music Hall" Live Reviews The Victor Wooten Trio at The Ardmore Music Hall
by Mike Jacobs
Published: March 14, 2017

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY IT!  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.