Skip to page content

Danilo Pérez


About this Artist

Born in Panama in 1966, DANILO PÉREZ started musical studies at just three years of age with his father, a bandleader and singer. By age 10, he was studying the European classical piano repertoire at the National Conservatory in Panama. After receiving his bachelor's degree in electronics, he moved to the United States to enroll in the Indiana University of Pennsylvania and, after changing his major to music, transferred to the prestigious Berklee College of Music. From 1985-88, while completing his degree in jazz composition, he performed with Jon Hendricks, Claudio Roditi and Paquito D'Rivera, and produced the critically-acclaimed Reunion album (Messidor) featuring D'Rivera and Arturo Sandoval: in 1994, Pérez also appeared on Sandoval's Grammy-winning album, Danzon. Since the late '80s, he has toured and/or recorded with Jack DeJohnette, Charlie Haden, Michael Brecker, Joe Lovano, Tito Puente, Wynton Marsalis, John Patitucci, Tom Harrell, Gary Burton, Wayne Shorter, Roy Haynes, and other notable jazz musicians.

Pérez first attracted the spotlight as the youngest member of Dizzy Gillespie's United Nations Orchestra (1989-1992). This pivotal tenure solidified his command of the eclectic, post-bop Latin style, and brought him to the forefront on Gillespie's Grammy Award-winning recording, Live At The Royal Festival Hall (Enja), an appearance at the Kennedy Center, and worldwide touring.

In 1993, Pérez turned his focus to his own ensembles and recording projects. A bold, ingenious bandleader, Pérez moved into the spotlight once again, this time for his own RCA/Novus CDs - Danilo Pérez (1993) and The Journey (1994). In 1995, he became the first Latin member of Wynton Marsalis' band, and the first jazz musician to perform with the Panamanian Symphony Orchestra, which featured an expanded 80-piece orchestral version of The Journey. Pérez released two recordings for impulse! - PanaMonk (1996) and Central Avenue (1998) - and won his first Grammy nomination for "Best Jazz Album" for the latter.

In addition, to leading his own ensembles, he is currently a member of the new Wayne Shorter Quartet (since 2001), the Steve Lacy Duo (since 1999), and has played with the Roy Haynes Trio since 1998.