Panama City's Central Avenue--the major street in pianist Danilo Perez's hometown, with its Hispanic, Middle Eastern, West Indian and American population--provides the perfect multicultural metaphor for this amazing recording, which also includes drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts; bassists John Benitez and John Patitucci; tabla player Ray Spiegel; vocalist Luciana Souza; and percussionists Pernell Saturnino and Miguel "Anga" Diaz. With his Afro-American/classically-trained pianisms, Perez does what his mentor, Dizzy Gillespie, did: He uses jazz and Afro-Latin rhythms to explore the world. He moves from the east Indian/Arabic tinges of "Blues for the Saints" and "Impromptu (Conversations)"; to the sly, Argentine/Afro-Amerindian chacarera rhythms on Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life"; and lands on the Cuban shore to the ancestral anthems of the guaguanco/abakua ritual drumming on John Coltrane's "Impressions," with Sousa's airy, wordless vocals. Perez's love of Thelonious Monk is most evident on the slow, stealth-like melody of "Love in Five." On "Panama Blues," he swings an inventive jazz arrangement on an old folk melody rendered by Panamanian country singer Raul Vital, with Aquiles Baez on the cuatro; this arrangement showcases this pianist's ever-expanding and boundary- busting imagination. --Eugene Holley, Jr.