The members of the Wayne Shorter Quartet call their pianist Danilo Pérez "the galactic ambassador," and there's some truth in the nickname. His mission has a certain spatial quality of vastness: For a decade, he has been the cultural ambassador for his native Panama, where he runs the Fundación Danilo Pérez, and every January, he serves as a UNICEF World Ambassador at the Panama Jazz Festival, an event he created. At this year's opening ceremony, the first lady of Panama awarded Pérez the nation's highest honor for the arts, the Orden Vasco Nuñez de Balboa. That same night, Boston's Berklee College of Music named him the artistic director of the newly created Berklee Global Jazz Institute.
Providencia, Danilo Pérez's debut on Mack Avenue Records, stuffs a lot of directive into 50 minutes of music. Pérez and his eight-year-old trio, with bassist Ben Street and drummer Adam Cruz, are the pivot point. In "Historia de un Amor," a staple from Panamanian composer Carlos Eleta Almaran, Pérez and company move into a harmonic evocation of the song's central idea — the suffering of a love forever gone. There's also the quiet reclamation of "Irremediablemente Solo" by Avelino Muñoz, a man better known as an organ salesman in Puerto Rico than as a great bolero writer.
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