When jazz becomes effortless . . .
Jan P. Dennis | Monument, CO USA | 08/19/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
". . . as it does on this CD, you get perhaps the finest musical experience possible in this lifetime.It's been a long journey for Danilo Perez, from his native Panama, through associations with Dizzy Gillespie, Wynton Marsalis, and Wayne Shorter, through his own brilliant recordings, PanaMonk, Central Avenue, and Motherland. It just goes to show that you only benefit by placing yourself among the very best players.This disc is hands down his finest. There's a maturity of concept and execution that, although often present on his previous recordings, never sustained itself so fully as it does here. The grooves (well, information bits, in this digital age) fairly ooze confidence and élan. Bassist Pattitucci and the leader, esp., seem to have developed an uncanny empathy over the years. And Brian Blade seems perfect for the drum chair. An extremely subtle player, yet with monster chops, he provides taste, coloration, and propulsion in equal amounts, always complementary, never stealing the show.Thankfully, Perez seems beyond the phase many young players find themselves mired in, where demonstrating one's prodigious chops is almost as important as musicality. Perez has nothing to prove. So instead of indulging in gratuitous pianistic virtuosity, he rather constructs the most beguiling solos and comping, relying on his inherent yet finely honed instincts to craft stunning soundscapes.But what most sets this disc apart from others by young lions is its sheer, drop-dead beauty. Certainly it is not too much to say this is one of the most gorgeous recordings ever to come out of the jazz world. Yet nothing is sacrificed in terms of a genuine jazz sensibility. Subtly augmented by plaintive vocals courtesy of rising star Liz Wright on two cuts, plus the haunting soprano sax of Donny McCaslin (a somewhat neglected player) on several others, and the percussive stylings of Adam Cruz, this disc achieves a balance between delicacy and power often striven for in jazz but seldom achieved. A small but perfect example is the soprano sax/steel pan unison lines near the end of "Vera Cruz," the Milton Nascimento masterpiece, that closes things out. Yes, it's a subtle passage, but one perfectly conceived and realized, the kind of thing that's everywhere present on this disc and which vaults it into some kind of ur-jazz territory seldom if ever approached even by its finest practitioners in their most rarified moments.Moreover, everything is so lightly worn as to appear practically inevitable: No untoward strivings, no whiff of laboring during the wee hours over scores and arrangements, no empty flash. Just line after beautiful line of glorious musical conversation occurring at the very highest levels. A disc like this comes along once a decade, if that--maybe once a lifetime. By all means, don't miss it."
A masterpiece from a great talent
John Thornton | Santa Ana, Ca United States | 01/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Danilo Perez is a core contributor to the great jazz of our time. I first saw him in NY in the mid 90s interpreting Monk (Panamonk). Clearly a player to watch. The attention was rewarded as Danilo released three consecutive amazing albums: Central Avenue, Mother Land, and his latest Till Then. Central Avenue primarily draws inspiration for the music of his native Panama/Caribean. The last two albums while retaining the Latin heart, represent continued exploration and growth. Danilo says Mother Land was inspired by working with Wayne Shorter (Love Alegria, don't care for Footprints). These albums are rhythmically and melodically rich and interesting. The musical ideas are as compelling as the technique. It takes a couple of listens to understand some of the cuts, and you still find new moments after multiple listenings. Till Then is a great album."