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Panama Jazz Festival 2018 : interviews with Chucho Valdés, Danilo Pérez, Hesham Galal and Patricia Zarate of the Pan-African Jazz Project and twenty concert videos...

Panama Jazz Festival 2018 150x150.jpgAt the 15th Panama Jazz Festival (January 15-20 2018), our interviews with Chucho Valdés, Danilo Pérez, Hesham Galal and Patricia Zarate of the Pan-African Jazz Project but also our concert videos from the Ateneo and the Global Stage of Chucho Valdés & The Afro-Cuban Messengers (Cuba), Marco Pignataro Quartet Almas Antiguas (US), The Digger Descendants Calypso Band (Panama), Josean Jacobo y Tumbao (Dominican Republic), Fundacion Armonia Colectiva (Costa Rica), Danilo Pérez Ben Cross Terri Lyne Carrington PanaMonk (Panama/US), The Pan-African Jazz Project (Panama/Egypt), Proyecto Shuruka (Panama), Yogev Chetrit Trio (Israel), Pureza Natural (Panama), 4 on a Swing (India), Shuffle Demons (Canada), Tambo Jazz Collective (Panama), Luis Carlos Pérez Band (Panama), Luciana Souza & The Berklee Global Jazz Institute (Brazil/US), Ran Blake and the New England Conservatory Jazz Ensemble (US), Shea Welsh Group (US), Ruben Amador y Yahuba (Puerto Rico), Santi Debriano Quartet (US) and German Pinzon (Panama).

For the YouTube playlist of all the videos of the PJF 2018, it's here or in list mode below...

All our Panama Jazz Festival 2018 videos...

All our Panama Jazz Festival 2018 videos, links in the list below the images...

capture d'écran 23 videos anglo PJF 2018.jpg

Friday January 19, 2018

Chucho Valdés - interview, Tabu and Congadanza @ Ateneo, it's here

Chucho Valdés & The Afro-Cuban Messengers
- Congadanza @ Ateneo, it's here

Marco Pignataro Quartet Almas Antiguas - Estate @ Ateneo, it's here

The Digger Descendants Calypso Band  @ Global Stage, it's here

Josean Jacobo y Tumbao - Cruzando El Rio @ Global Stage, it's here

Fundacion Armonia Colectiva @ Global Stage, it's here

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Danilo Pérez - interview, PanaMonk and Bright Mississipi @ Ateneo, it's here

Danilo Pérez Ben Cross Terri Lyne Carrington PanaMonk - Bright Mississipi @ Ateneo, it's here

Hesham Galal Patricia Zarate Pan-African Jazz Project - interview, Lamma Bada Yatathana (Blues Andalus) and Rainy Day @ Ateneo, it's here

The Pan-African Jazz Project - Lamma Bada Yatathana (Blues Andalus) @ Ateneo, it's here

Proyecto Shuruka
- Chelelé  @ Global Stage, it's here

Yogev Chetrit Trio - I Will Wait  @ Global Stage, it's here

Pureza Natural @ Global Stage, it's here

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

4 on a Swing
- Joshua @ Global Stage, it's here

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Shuffle Demons
- One Good Turn @ Global Stage, it's here

Tambo Jazz Collective
- Tambo Swing @ Global Stage, it's here

Luis Carlos Pérez Band - La Aparicion @ Ateneo, it's here

Luciana Souza & The Berklee Global Jazz Institute - Chorinho Pra Ele @ Ateneo, it's here

Monday, January 15, 2018

Ran Blake and the New England Conservatory Jazz Ensemble
- Memphis @ Ateneo, it's here

Shea Welsh Group
- Sancho T. Panza @ Global Stage, it's here

Ruben Amador y Yahuba
- Seis de Boston, @ Global Stage, it's here

Santi Debriano Quartet
- Awesome Blues, Whatever @ Ateneo, it's here

German Pinzon
@ Global Stage, it's here

We spoke with cuban pianist Chucho Valdés at the 2018 Panama Jazz Festival, about the festival, what they'll be playing, his musicians, a few WOW moments he's had, Irakere 45 years later, Arturo Sandoval, Art Tatum, and more...

chucho avec claude 150x150.jpgWe spoke with cuban pianist Chucho Valdés at the 2018 Panama Jazz Festival, about the festival, what they'll be playing, his musicians, a few WOW moments he's had, Irakere 45 years later, Arturo Sandoval, Art Tatum, being a young musician today in Cuba and the future of music in regards to technology. Here's the transcription of the video interview.

CT : Hi Chucho, welcome to the Panama Jazz Festival...

CV : I'm very happy to be here at the 15th Panama Jazz Festival. I want to say thank you to great great piano player Danilo Pérez. (He's the man behind the Panama Jazz Festival)

CT : What will you be playing?

CV : I'll be playing music from different records, Border-Free of course, and I've got new music too for the PJF. That's what I'll play tonight. New music and some
music from my past records.

CT : Tell us about your great band...

CV : Yelsi Heredia is the bass player, Yaroldy Abreu Robles is on the congas and Rodney Barreto plays the drums.

CT : You've had such a great carreer playing with so many jazz greats, tell about a WOW moment or moments you've had playing?

CV : I don't think I can say just one, but many, the Grammy Awards in 1980 playing with Irakere for CBS Records, meeting Bill Evans, one of my favorite piano players, for me Bill Evans is a god, receiving a Honoris Causa Doctorate in music in Cuba, and the other great moment is playing at the White House for the 2016 International Jazz Day for Barack and Michele Obama.

CT : When you started Irakere 45 years ago did you think it would last so long?

CV : No never. We played together for such a long long time and then everyone went different ways and now many of them are some of the best musicians in the world : Paquito D'Rivera, Arturo Sandoval...

CT : Talking about Arturo Sandoval, any chance one day of getting back together with him for a Irakere project?

CV : I don't know. I think Arturo Sandoval is one of the greatest trumpet players on the planet.

CT : What did Art Tatum's music do to you?

CV : At the time when I was a young kid my father (Bebo) taught me the music of Art Tatum, he was one of my father's favorite piano players and I practiced his music a lot. I respect him very much.

CT : What's the situation today for a latin jazz musician in Cuba?

CV : I think it's one of the best moments. With the Havana Jazz Festival of which I'm the Honorary President, and with some of the biggest names of jazz playing over the years such as Wynton Marsalis, Joe Lovano and Dizzy Gillespie, the young generation of cuban musicians were influenced by all those, as well as Brad Mehldau, Danilo Peréz, Herbie, Chick, Keith...

CT : How do you see the future of music with the direction its going in regards to technology and the Internet?

CV : I prefer the acoustic piano, the acoustic bass, but technology is the future. Maybe I'm the older generation and I prefer the real sound.

To see the video interview, it's here

Interview : Claude Thibault

Music : Tabú and CongaDanza from Border-Free (2014)

With panamanian pianist Danilo Pérez @ the 2018 Panama Jazz Festival, we talk about why he started the Festival, his vision of music and it's impact on social change, PanaMonk 22 years ago and now, linking Monk and Panama's music, and more.

danilo pour article entrevue.jpgWith panamanian pianist Danilo Pérez @ the 2018 Panama Jazz Festival, we talk about why he started the Festival, his vision of music and it's impact on social change, PanaMonk 22 years ago and now, linking Monk and Panama's music, a WOW moment in his career and why we should check out next year's Panama Jazz Festival. Here's the transcription of the video interview.

CT : So Danilo what initially motivated you to create the Danilo Pérez Fondation and the Panama Jazz Festival? Such a great idea in such a beautiful country...

DP : In 1989 when I joined Dizzy Gillespie we went to the San Sebastian Jazz Festival in Spain. I saw how the whole city turned into a huge attraction thru jazz, and also how so many people were coming just for the music and I thought wow that would be great in Panama, an attraction for cultural tourism, something we didn't experience here that much. In regards to the Fondation, I had a great mentor in my life, my father. He taught me that music was necessary in our life as children. He understood that music had to play an important role in the life of children. He was an educator, so for him it was very important. I grew up in an environnment of educators and I believe that music is fundamental in the right development of humanity. When I won my scholarship to go to the U.S., I promised that after my own education, I would come back an teach. So with my dream of the PJF we created the Danilo Pérez Fondation.

CT : At the PJF press conference you said something very inspiring and touching words, and I'll quote you : "Social change and education is like improvisation, it requires and open state of mind, creativity and collaboration"...can you elaborate on that?

DP : Well you know, one of the things that my father taught was that music gives you the ability to look at the world in a different way. So looking at the world thru the lense of music and using it as a tool for a human being to develop abilities like teamwork, concentration, listening, reaction, improvisation, all these skills that your learn - but no only in music - they help in all the aspects of being human. I think it's important to have the tools that music teaches you and apply it to other areas. Not only that but it gives the listener the experience of being transformed by the music, so there's a deep connection that happens. Music has this power to not only give you values but also has a healing and therapeutic effect on people. For me, understanding where we are now in 2018, where the greatest threat is conflict, and as an artist we have the responsabillity to use music as a tool to create an antidote against conflict.

CT : How has that PanaMonk evolved since it's creation 22 years ago?

DP : I didn't really like Monk when I started playing and I would say that Monk grew on me. The experience I had with Wynton Marsalis, connecting New Orleans and Panama, the ties and the history we have together I think helped me understand Monk in a deeper way. But back then when I did the album PanaMonk (1996) I understood it in the sense of rhythms and structure. Monk created a window for me to come from my background in Panama...into jazz. Because of my experience with Wayne Shorter as well as my writing, I'm now hearing things I didn't hear back then and one of the things that I hear now is a very strong emotional component, there's an ugly beauty that I connect with. And I cry when I hear his Just A Gigolo, that gets all the time. 22 years later I've grown as a human being and I feel emotionally attached. There's a lyricism that I didn't hear back then, and I'm more sensitive to that now.

CT : At the January 18th Panama Jazz Festival concert, you said that Monk's music reminded you of music from Panama...

DP : I grew up listening to great jazz in Panama done by Victor Boa, Claris Martin, Pat Gordon, Jim White, Reggie Johnson, I grew up listening to that and the way they played jazz, there was a connection with the Caribbean, and the way they played the rhythms, in between the times, it's go a feel to it, you're pulling in, you're pulling out, it's like calypso, like panamenean folklore tambo, something I call it the water beat, and when I heard Monk I heard certain rhythms that reminded me of that folklore and certain rhythms that connected me with the clave, like in Monk's Evidence. And that was before I discovered the Gonzalez Brothers, Jerry and Andy, and their Rumba Para Monk. They had made the clave-Monk connection. There's a connection with the tamborito, there's a Caribbean feel to it. And if you hear Monk's music from that perspective, you're going to hear a deep connection with the tambor. And you can hear the threads from Africa to the childen in North and Latin America, Monk speaks a language that is universal, it's the afro-american sound, like Randy Weston, it's a sound that comes from this place (touches his chest).

CT : Can you tell about a WOW moment you've had and with who?

DP : I had a wow moment at the Montreal Jazz Festival with the Wayne Shorter Quartet. I felt like I was somewhat levitating, I was feeling away from my body and saw myself away from there, and then the feeling disappeared, we kept on playing and then it went into a very calm sound, when we finished we were like in a trance, John Patitucci (Wayne's bassist) also mentionned to me that it was like a spiritual experience, and so did Brian Blade (Wayne's drummer). And then I went backstage and told Wayne that I felt like I was flying and he said, Danilo that's what I've been trying to tell you all the time with Miles Davis, we were flying. And I said...Wow! That was quite an experience.

CT : What would you like to tells our readers about the next Panama Jazz Festival in January 2019?

DP : In the world that we are living in right now where the greatest threat is conflict, I think we all need to find a place where we can gather together and really experience music as a tool for social change, music therapy, global jazz, all these different styles joining together, redefining the nature of the word jazz, vaccinnating ourselves with hope and optimism, I invite you to come and join us at the Panama Jazz Festival, to use music as a tool to create the antidote against conflit. Hope to see you next year in 2019.

To see the video version of this interview with PanaMonk concert excerpts with Ben Cross and Terri Lyne Carrington January 18th 2018, it's here

The 16th Panama Jazz Festival is January 14-19 2019.

Interview and editing : Claude Thibault

The Pan-African Jazz Project name in itself is something to be curious about. But that's not why I met egyptian pianist Hesham Galal and panamanian saxophonist (as well as Panama Jazz Festival GM) Patricia Zarate.

Pan-African Jazz Project 150x150.jpgThe Pan-African Jazz Project name in itself is something to be curious about. But that's not why I met egyptian pianist Hesham Galal and panamanian saxophonist (as well as Panama Jazz Festival GM) Patricia Zarate. Here's the transcription of the video interview.

CT : So Patricia, how did The Pan-African Jazz Project start?

PZ : Well this is part of a cultural diplomacy program here in Panama where we use music to learn about other people and cultures thru jazz. We get together with musicians, we go to their country and they come here and we explore the continental drift in between our music. For us in Latin America it's difficult to simply go to Africa, to understand african culture deeply even thought we have many african roots. There's so much culture and history in Africa that we don't know that We only get to see it and know this culture when we are actually there. The meaning of the music and how rich and diverse and Egypt specifically is really amazing. It's opened our eyes to a whole new world, Africa, the Middle East, Arabic cultures. It's really helped us understand, respect and appreciate their culture.

CT : Hesham, how did you react when you were approached for the Pan-African Jazz Project? wow! or...oh my god?

HG : A bit of both because even before we met, when I got all the charts and music from the different musicians of the group, I fell in love with the project right away. And I said : Ok I'm doing it for sure. And then I thought well I better sit down and practice them...They sounded very nice and looked very good but they weren't easy. The minute the band came to Cairo and we started rehearsing and it was like magic.

CT : I had the pleasure of attending both of your PJF concerts, where you played Lamma Bada Yatathana (Blues Andalus), Dance of Denial, Historia d'Un Amour and Rainy Day, what's the selection process?

PZ : We choose universal melodies that can be adapted and that have a space for improvisation which is kind of the glue in the group. We try to improvise. Egyptian music has improvisation in its roots, like jazz and blues. If the songs are open with spaces where we can improvise, they're chosen. We try to choose melodies that connect to both the panamanian and egyptian audiences.

HG : In regards to the arrangements if it's traditional egyptian or middle-eastern music we make it work so it'll fit into a jazz environment, with a structure that will be known by any musician worldwide, and with spaces for solos.

CT : Hesham, Can you describe the egyptian musicians in the project?

HG : For the 2018 Panama Jazz Festival we have Bal Qeis on the oud and vocals, and myself (Hesham Galal) on the piano and arrangements. She reflects the new generation of oud players, she's not like the traditional oud players from 30 years ago. She uses pedal effects and overdrive like with most guitarists. She explores the loops and overdubs herself, playing a bass loop with some chords and then improvising on that.

PZ : Patricia, can you describe the panamanian musicians in the project?

PZ : We have a wonderful group of panamanians, we've been playing together for a long time, we know each other musically and that helps a lot going to different places and exploring panamanian music with other cultures. All the musicians are teachers with the Danilo Pérez Fundacion which has a mission to explore music as a tool for peace and cultural exchange, going to Egypt, Chile, Haiti, China and Thailand. So we're a group of cultural workers and it's very helpful that we've grown together musically, we love each other and that helps open the music process a lot more.

Patricia Zarate - alto sax / Carlos Agrazal - soprano sax / Joshue Ashby - violin / Graciela "Chelín" Núñez - violin / Luz Acosta - bass / Oscarin Cruz - percussion / Chale Icaza - drums

CT : What's the difference in the way the public reacts in Egypt and Panama?

HG : The concept of sitting down and listening to a concert in Egypt is growing, like normally if you go in a club people will not stop talking if you play, you'll see that a lot in Cairo. But surprisingly when we played with the Pan-African Jazz Project at the Cairo Jazz Festival (2016-2017) people listen and even dance. The last piece we played in Cairo in 2017 when Patricia invited people to dance even thought it was a panamanian song, everybody got up and danced.

PZ : Well I think both publics in general have a good time with the band, we even have a little fan club here in Panama, they love the mix of the sounds and both in Africa and Panama, they love the part where we play the panamamian rhythm the atraversado and they get up and dance. This rhythm is played with a panamanian drum which comes from West Africa so it makes total sense that both publics get into it.

CT : How do you manage a group with such a great distance?

PZ : Technology is the answer, it would be impossible any other way, for sending files and using the cloud for sharing music, and we skype.

CT : What are the future projects of the PAJP?

PZ : A lot of people love the project, they love the panamanian and egyptian sounds, it's very unique. It's a synthesis of american history, the trip from Africa to Spain, to America and then going back to Africa. So the level of transculturation is so interesting. We have been invited by several festivals, already, and people are asking for a CD. We want to do it all but it takes time and ressources.

CT : And of course you're going to come to the Montreal Jazz Fest, right?

PZ : I hope so, we're ready to go...

CT : Patricia, you're also a music therapist, the Panama Jazz Festival general mgr, and involved in the Latin American Music Therapy Symposium, how do you do it all?

PZ : Lots of work and very little sleep. I take care a lot of my health and what I eat and I'm very disciplined. I'm always looking for ways to be healthy physically and mentally.

Last words...

HG : I want to personally thank Patricia for this opportunity, without her, it would not have happened.

PZ : It's been a wonderful experience and it was great getting to know egyptian musicians, like Hesham and Balkis and we hope to keep exploring Egypt and hopefully  going to more places, not just Cairo and Panama. We're just amazed by all the history which inspire us and we want to make it happen again.

Chévere! Salam Aleykoum!

To see the video version of this interview with music from Lamma Bada Yatathana (Blues Andalus) and Rainy Day January 18th 2018, it's here

Interview and editing : Claude Thibault

Panama, jazz, Danilo Pérez, education and society and a connected state of mind at the 15th Panama Jazz Festival.

Danilo Perez articleThe ongoing (Jan 15-20) 15th Panama Jazz Festival (PJF) is more than just a series of great concerts and artists from Panama, the Americas, Israel, Egypt, India, the U.S. and Canada, it's a educational, social event and a connected state of mind. Pianist, educator and humanist Danilo Pérez, the man behind the Fundacion Danilo Pérez, who produces and organises the PJF, had some very inspiring words at the opening press conference January 15th that define the event and it's vision. Social change and education is like improvisation, it requires an open state of mind, creativity and collaboration - and that's one of the key motivations of the PJF. He's one of the most inspiring people in jazz today and we should all learn from his way of doing things and his vision as a society and in the world of jazz. To highlight that we'll soon present an interview with Danilo as well as some concert excerpts from Panamonk Revisited  with Ben Street and Terri Lynn Carrington.

In parallel to the great concerts of the PJF and thanks to the inspired work of the Fundacion Danilo Pérez and it's 500 volunteers are presented an impressive series of clinics and workshops on jazz and more for the young and upcoming musicians from Panama, Central America, the U.S and other countries given by many of the artists and groups playing at the PJF.

The other important aspect that defines the PJF is the Ciudad del Saber where most of the events are held. The Ciudad del Saber (City of Knowledge) is the converted Fort Clayton U.S. military base, a few kilometers from the Panama Canal that's become a cluster of social, cultural, educational, academic, non-governemental organisations and technology endeavours.  Two of the most important series of the PJF are at the Ciudad del Saber, namely the Global Stage presenting three end-of-afternoon shows daily and the Ateneo presenting two shows daily, both 5 minutes of walking distance between each other.

Monday January 15th
The Global Stage started off with guitarist Shea Walsh and his band (USA), followed by drummer/percussionist Ruben Amador's Yahuba (Puerto Rico), and ended  with guitarist German Pinzón Jiménez (Panama). The Ateneo in turn presented pianist Ran Blake with Boston's New England Conservatory followed up by bassist Santi DeBriano with Craig Handy, Bill O'Connell and Will Calhoun. Quite an impressive first day. Videos to come on all these bands.

Tuesday January 16th
On the 2nd day at the Global Stage I discovered the Pan-African Jazz Project, a unique Panama / Egypt collaboration with pianist Hishem Galal and saxophonist/PJF organiser/ musical therapist Patricia Zarate, among others. Keeps your eyes peeled for the upcoming interview and concert excerpts with both about this very unique and mesmerizing world jazz project. They were followed by Canada's own Shuffle Demons that went on to turn on the crowd like noboby else, deserving well their name. The third band of the Global Stage was the Tambo Jazz Collective with Carlos Agrazal who explore the connection of jazz and panamanian folklore. What a treat. At the Ateneo trumpeter Luis Carlos Pérez Band (Panama) presented his own brand of latin jazz as well as some New Orleans inspired grooves followed up by brazilian singer Luciana Souza and the Berkelee Global Jazz Institute topping of the night with some uptempo jazz and brazilian grooves. Videos to come on all these bands.

Wednesday January 17th

At the Global Stage Four On A Swing (India) get things going with jazz classics, bebop and swing, followed by Paulina Perez and Luna Mestiza (Chile) and to end the Global Stage programming, La Colectiva's panamanian brand of jazz, funk, rock and afro-caribbean sounds. The Ateneo programming takes a break as we get out of the Ciudad del Saber for one of the highlights of the PJF, the Gala concert at Panama City's downtown Atlapa Convention Center. Danilo Pérez and Luciana Souza break the ice in a duet with Amores Como El Nuestro and Maybe A Bolero, with a lot of feeling. They're then joined by the Berklee Global Jazz Big Band led by all-around-nice-guy Bill Dobbins for Começar de Novo and Flor de Lys. Beautiful arrangements and sounds. Wayne Shorter, Danilo Pérez, John Patitucci (bass) and Brian Blade (drums) finally make it on stage for two pieces that last about 25 minutes of some very - here in the moment - music, very much in the spirit of his latest Without A Net album, Wayne plays with inspiration, but soberly, and sits. The whole thing, it must be said, driven by a very inspired and powerful Brian Blade, and well-connected with Danilo and John. The Gala ends with the return of the Berklee Global Jazz Big Band, Danilo Pérez et two icons of the popular local culture, charismatic panamenian singer Sandra Sandoval and her rather shy brother, accordeonnist Samy Sandoval for three latino songs, Hola Soledad, El Dia Que Me Quieras and Tu Me Vas à Llorar.

Chevere! Long live the Panama Jazz Festival!

Claude Thibault, Editor
@ the 15th Panama Jazz Festival

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