Danilo Perez Trio: Live at the Jazz Showcase

John Kelman By

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Watching pianist Danilo Perez's career unfold has been an experience in shared exploration. He's never forgetten his Panamanian heritage, but along with pianists Edward Simon and Luis Perdomo, Perez has reflected a new dimension—a new wave of artists from Latin cultures who incorporate traditional rhythms and melodic ideas into more modern contexts that include complicated meters, abstract harmonies, and an altogether more experimental approach.

As a member of Wayne Shorter's current quartet, Perez has had the greatest exposure to date. Watching that group unfold a composition like untying a complex knot, where one pull can result in increased tension and yet another puzzle elsewhere, is a remarkable experience. And as much as Perez has brought his own more oblique sensibilities to Shorter's group, he's also taken the lessons learned there and applied them to his own projects.

The trio presented on his latest release, Live at the Jazz Showcase—including bassist Ben Street and drummer Adam Cruz—has been together for over two years, and it shows. In a live performance that often sees the trio linking more structured pieces with freely improvised segments, the interconnect between the three is so vivid that it becomes difficult to differentiate between what is written and what is not. On the opening "Preludio, Perez is on his own for the majority of the piece, but when Cruz enters and Perez begins generating musical exclamation points, Cruz is right there with him.

Another improvisation, "Metropolis, shapes itself from Street's introductory solo, but by the time Perez and Cruz are in, there's a distinct sense of form. The simpatico demonstrated by "Unseen Hands, where Perez builds a spare motif and Street intuits just the right notes to support it and give it shape, represents the kind of shared experience that only comes from working together on a regular basis.

Elsewhere, the trio uses formal composition as starting points for broader exploration. "Native Soul and Stevie Wonder's "Overjoyed, both from Perez's last release, '03's Till Then, demonstrate how working with Shorter has affected Perez's own conception. On "Overjoyed the recognizable, albeit completely reharmonized theme emerges a third of the way through, as if shrouded in a mist, only to be subsumed once again as the trio finds linking points between its inherent lyricism and more obscure self-reference.

Sometimes there appear to be multiple rhythms going on at once, all of which imply a core groove that is only discernable if one can absorb the trio as a whole, rather than listening to its individual components. And yet, when called for, the group can be singly focused and even poignant, as it is with its reading of the great composer Silvio Rodriguez's tender ballad "Rabo de Nube.

Groups that remain together for a period of years are a rarity these days. With Live at the Jazz Showcase Perez proves that longevity clearly cultivates a deeper sense of interplay and a more intuitive sense of oneness.

This release is only available at Danilo Perez's website and ArtistShare on the web.

Track Listing: Preludio; We See; Epilogo; Overjoyed; Metropolis; Rabo de Nube; Monk's Dream; Furrows; Unseen Hands; Native Soul; New Born; Cancion de Cuna; Paula C

Personnel: Danilo Perez (piano), Ben Street (bass), Adam Cruz (drums)

Title: Live at the Jazz Showcase | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: ArtistShare


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