Discipline, dedication, responsibility and the ability to summon large crowds helped turn the initiative of the Panamanian pianist, Grammy winner and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Danilo Pérez, into an international success.
A look back on the Panama Jazz Festival inspires authentic pride in Panamanians, because they now enjoy an impressive degree of prestige. And with reason. They began to work hard as a team, as Danilo Pérez and his sponsors believed in the possibility of placing jazz in a special place in our country, as is deserving of a genre that so many renowned figures, both local and international, have brought to light throughout history.
From 2003 to date, the stages of the Panama Jazz Festival have held outstanding aficionados of this very special kind of music, from the United States, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Chile, Cuba, Italy and Panama. Noteworthy musicians include Kenny Barron, Mike Stern, Jack Dejohnette, Carlos Garnett, Charlie Hunter, Joe Lovano, John Patitucci, Víctor Paz, Danilo Pérez, Janis Siegel, Bárbara Wilson, Kurt Rosenwinkel, David Sánchez and Mark Turner.
Randy Weston, Edmar Castañeda, Nnenna Freelon, Tía Fuller, Kelley Johnson, Stanley Jordan, Catherine Russell, Dave Samuels, Wayne Shorter, Luba Mason, Marco Pignataro, Chucho Valdés, Lizz Wright, Jamey Haddad, Terri Lyne Carrington, Danilo Pérez's Trio, Juanito Pascual and the New England Conservatory are among others who have delighted thousands of people of all ages with their music at Cathedral Square, Anayansi Theater, City of Knowledge and other scenarios.
Over the past decade, the Panama Jazz Festival has served as a springboard for talented and enthusiastic, but economically disadvantaged, youth from Panama and elsewhere to obtain the opportunity to study music in such renowned institutions abroad as the Berklee College of Music.
Organizers have watched with pride as virtuosos like Jahaziel Arrocha delighted festival audiences with their musical talent. He also took the time to share his experiences, knowledge and stories with other young people and children who, like he did, dream to climb on stage, give a concert and receive applause.
Auditions and clinics
Thus we also see enthusiastic music students who come to the auditions ever year looking for that opportunity to grow personally and professionally, because the musical art offers immeasurable benefits to the individual.
A brief recap of 10 years of the Panama Jazz Festival shows several noteworthy awards that have been given to such renowned musicians as Luis Russell (2003), Victor Boa (2005), Mauricio Smith (2006), Barbara Wilson (2007) Clarence Martin (2008), Sonny White (2010) and Victor "Vitín" Peace (2011).