[JPL] The Shock of the New, for Musicians and Audience Alike

r durfee rdurfee2003 at yahoo.com
Mon Oct 29 17:34:59 EDT 2007

October 26, 2007
Music Review | Danilo Pérez Trio
The Shock of the New, for Musicians and Audience Alike

The Panamanian pianist Danilo Pérez prefaced his first
set on Wednesday night at the Jazz Standard with a
teasingly provocative endorsement of the Boston Red
Sox. Then, in the same spirit, he said: “This is a
rehearsal, not a performance. We don’t know what we’re
doing. It’s just a lot of new music.” 

Normally those aren’t words anyone wants to hear at a
jazz club, no matter how savory the barbecue. But Mr.
Pérez propped up his insouciance with an unspoken
subtext: just wait, because this will be good. The
twinkle in his eye seemed almost visible across the

Mr. Pérez has the instincts of an entertainer, and it
would be easy for him to churn out music with a lot of
surface dazzle. Clearly, though, that isn’t his aim.
For the better part of a decade he has been mining the
deeper subtleties of harmony and form, in his own
ensembles and in the Wayne Shorter Quartet. His
working trio, with the bassist Ben Street and the
drummer Adam Cruz, is among the better small groups

And as Wednesday’s performance (rehearsal?) proved,
the trio has progressed since its last album, “Live at
the Jazz Showcase” (ArtistShare), recorded almost four
years ago. Mr. Pérez anchored the set with two
standards, the Bud Powell workout “Hallucinations” and
the Carlos Almarán bolero “Historia de Un Amor.” Each
was purposefully abstracted in a way that held the
melody aloft over whirlpools of rhythm.

The new originals posed different challenges, and some
worked better than others. “Daniela” had all the
complexity of an opus, from the first sinuous bass
ostinato onward. Mr. Street and Mr. Cruz brought
toughness as well as finesse to the underlying pulse,
which shifted from a six-over-four feel to a looser
quintuple meter, then on to a skittering 13/8 and,
finally, a calm rubato. 

That open-ended sensibility continued through the next
tune, “Carolina.” (Mr. Pérez explained that these
pieces were dedicated to his daughters, and that
Carolina, the younger sibling, was “a no-bar-line
type.”) Here a romantic melody began to take shape but
was soon curtailed; the song felt unfinished,

Mr. Pérez played commandingly throughout the set. He
often conducted a polyrhythmic dialogue between his
two hands; at other times he used his left to lay the
groundwork while his right took off in flight. On the
set closer, tentatively titled “Galactic Panama,” he
struck the perfect balance between elasticity and
groove. Mr. Street and Mr. Cruz matched his
contribution, sounding as if they knew exactly what
they were doing. 

The Danilo Pérez Trio performs tonight at the Jazz
Standard, 116 East 27th Street, Manhattan; (212)
576-2232, jazzstandard.net.


Roy Durfee
P.O. Box 40219
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87196-0219
rdurfee2003 at yahoo.com

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