The Sunday Times Magazine also contains an article by Peter Watrous entitled, "Merchants of Ivory: The golden age of the jazz piano is now." Being in love with the playing of Monk, Bill Evans, Wynton Kelly, McCoy Tyner (especially with Trane and with his big band), Herbie Hancock (when he plays jazz!), Chick Corea (when he plays jazz!), and a host of others, I've not been ready, until recently, to recognize the excellence of today's younger players. But Watrous is right. Pianists like Marcus Roberts, Stephen Scott, Jacky Terrasson (recently won the Monk Competition; caught him with Betty Carter and he was and is excellent!), Renee Rosnes and Cyrus Chestnut have taken the music and made it their own. We have lots to look forward to.
My personal favorite: Danilo Perez. Watrous writes:
"A different musical esthetic, one permeated by Latin rhythms and melodies, has influenced Danilo Perez, 27, who grew up in Panama. He learned how to improvise from his father, a salsa singer, and before he was a teen-ager he had started classical piano lessons. Music was everywhere -- he heard jazz from a next-door neighbor and early on played in salsa bands. He has an immense sound, bigger than most other pianists: he can cram a room with music. He'll stand up an pluck the strings inside of the piano, sending waves of notes smacking up against each other; then, at the keyboard, he will switch effortlessly from a swinging jazz section to the acidic harmonies of 20th-century classical music to a bouncing Latin figure. ... Perez revels in an extroverted, wild excitement..."
And Watrous didn't tell the half of it. Danilo has fun when he plays. He exudes joy. The communication of his eyes with the bass player, the drummer is just wonderful to watch, almost as much fun as listening to the music. I come by this knowledge personally: Danilo was a teacher/performer at the Stanford Jazz Workshop last summer so I got to see him play for a week. It was the most joyous music I've _ever_ witnessed. It was uplifting.
Danilo played with Dizzy Gillespie the last few years of Dizzy's life, and previously played with John Hendricks. He has two CDs available under his own name. The first is entitled "Danilo Perez" (Novus). His latest has just come out: "The Journey" (also on Novus). The journey begins "in Africa's mysterious dawn, through the anguish and suffering endured by its people, the capture and domination of an entire culture, a culture that survived despite the many atrocities inflicted upon it." It travels across the Atlantic, arriving in Cuba, in Panama, and ends with "Libre Spiritus," "An invitation to forget, enabling us to forgive, and to develop the inner freedom that will grant us a universal language without words: music." The Journey is very good. And if you get the chance, go see Danilo live. You'll love his playing as much as I do! I guarantee it!!
This week I picked up "A Tribute to Miles" featuring Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, Tony Williams and Wallace Roney. Especially if you're a musician, but even if you're not, the CD is a _must have_! Live versions of So What and All Blues plus five other songs (RJ, Little One, Pinnochio, Elegy and Eighty One). Miles' spirit pervades this music. Go get it! Tell us what you think!