Crisálida

Danilo Perez

Crisálida

An accomplished bandleader and composer as well as the sole pianist of the Wayne Shorter Quartet throughout the group’s triumphant 20-plus-year run, Panamanian-born Danilo Perez has also distinguished himself as a festival director, cultural ambassador, and humanitarian. He has long sought to make music that feeds and expands on these important public roles, and Crisálida (“chrysalis”) is, perhaps, the clearest example to date. It’s two consecutive four-movement suites played by a group with vocals and unique instrumentation called Global Messengers. The band members are alumni of Perez’s Global Jazz Institute at Berklee College of Music: Faris Ishaq (ney flute) and Naseem Alatrash (cello) are among the first we hear on the opening of La Muralla (Glass Walls) Suite, soon joined by percussionist Tareq Rantisi, laouto (Greek lute) player Vasilis Kostas, and vocalist/violinist Layth Sidiq. The players hail from Palestine, Iraq, Jordan, Greece, Cuba, Chile, and the US, and together they exude a selfless spirit as they blend their sounds in the service of Perez’s soaring compositions. Spoken-word passages by saxophonist Patricia Zarate (Perez’s wife) and batá drummer Román Diaz, plus celestial sounds from a Greek children’s choir, put Crisálida on an elevated plane as Perez articulates his utopian vision of a world united. The piano is but one texture in the multi-layered ensemble, but on “Muropatía” and the “Al-Musafir Blues” portion of the Fronteras (Borders) Suite, Perez kicks into higher gear, with compelling results.

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