Danilo Perez – Til Then

Danilo Perez
Til Then

(Verve – 2004)
by John Thompson

Panama-born pianist Danilo Perez has released, depending on your likings, an “interesting” CD on Verve. I recently saw Perez playing with the Wayne Shorter Quartet at the first Portland Jazz Festival. Included with that band and on this CD are Bassist John Patitucci and Brian Blade on drums. See the March 2004 article of jazzusa.com. On this CD, Perez seems to take a very settled approach with the structure and his solos; however, you can see that there is tons of room for potential fire.

Bass and drum duties are shared with Ben Street (B) and Adam Cruz (D, steel pan, perc.), vocal by Lizz Wright, and sax by Donny McCaslin. It’s clear that the musicians have skills, but the arrangements don’t necessarily ask for blazing chops, rather more for harmonious interactions. Perez creates the moods wonderfully by not being overpowering, rather with his cleverly placed rhythmic accents and inflections. My favorites are as follows: The opening tune, “Native Soul” gives great representation of what’s to expect for the rest of the disc. Too bad it is only 3:16. Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed” is played with a 7 feel as opposed to the regular 4, and should be a delight for those opposed to the status quo. “Paul C,” written by Blades, is one of the stretch-out tunes (mid tempo) that feature Cruz on drums displaying strong feel for percussion fills. The other stretch tune is the 9:25 long “Vera Cruz,” which gives Patitucci and McCaslin some personal expression, and “Trocando em Miudos.” Also present is Joni Mitchell’s “Fiddle and the Drum.”

The music here is adventurous, with some tunes sounding like others, some very short, and some ending just when you would think that the song will continue. Perez and the band have a connection that is to be admired. There is plenty of evidence of modern leadership: The leader (Perez) affording democracy towards the band and the music instead of dictatorship. 3 stars.