Uniting internationally acclaimed jazz artists, renowned educators and jazz fans from around the globe, the 11th Annual Panama Jazz Festival will be held January 13-18, 2014 at The City of Knowledge in Panama City. The festival honors the 500th Anniversary of the re-discovery of the Pacific Ocean, as well as the 100th Anniversary of the Panama Canal.
Among the headliners for this year's festival is founder and Artistic Director Danilo Pérez and his recently assembled Panama 500 band, featuring violinist Alex Hargreaves, bassist John Patitucci, drummer Adam Cruz and percussionist Roman Diaz. The group will perform music from the pianist's forthcoming album, Panama 500 (February 4, Mack Avenue Records).
"Balboa's re-discovery of the Pacific Ocean and the construction of the Panama Canal have had a tremendous importance in the world because they created and connected the new great sea route between America, Europe and Asia," explains Pérez. "Panama has become a path of adventure that unites the world and it makes great sense to celebrate it with Jazz. The history of Panama is connected with globalization like no other country and this is why we want to celebrate Panama's unique contributions to the world through jazz music."
Additional headliners include vocalist Lizz Wright, the Kenny Garrett Quintet, jazz fusion collective HBC Trio (guitarist Scott Henderson, bassist Jeff Berlin and drummer Dennis Chambers), Peruvian drummer Jorge Pérez with special guest saxophonist George Garzone, vocalist Nedelka Prescod, guitarist Shea Welsh, vocalist Michelle Coltrane (daughter of John Coltrane), and pianist Kevin Harris.
Larger ensemble performances include Puerto Rican percussionist Eguie Castrillo with the Panama Jazz Festival Latin Band and special guest vocalist Wichy Camacho, along with the John Patitucci Latin Jazz Project in collaboration with the Berklee Global Jazz Institute. Four national bands will be featured at this year's festival: Osvaldo Ayala Transismico Project, Luci and The Soul Brokers, Señor Loop and The Danilo Pérez Foundation Band.
Furthermore, the festival will host The 2nd Latin American Music Therapy Symposium, bringing music therapists from the Chile, Argentina, Panama, Venezuela, Costa Rica (among other Latin American countries) and the United States together to present on the therapeutic effects of music.
Since its inception in 2003, the Panama Jazz Festival has attracted over 200,000 jazz fans worldwide and has announced over three million dollars in international scholarships. Last year, the festival welcomed 1,700 students from around the world who participated in the educational events. This year, the festival continues its commitment to education by hosting the Golandsky Institute, a not-for-profit organization based in New York. They will offer master classes for jazz and classical pianists as well as other instrumentalists, emphasizing the application of the Taubman approach to build technical ease and to explore musical interpretation. This approach has proven to be highly effective in the resolution of technical and artistic limitations, as well as in curing and preventing repetitive stress injuries in musicians.
Other participating educational institutions include Boston-based schools, Berklee College of Music and the New England Conservatory, which will both be holding auditions for admission and scholarships. The Berklee Global Jazz Institute will hold master classes, perform social work with Panamanian youth and perform in various settings throughout the festival. The school will also start a program where students will earn one college performance credit to Berklee. In addition to these various universities, Crossroads High School (Los Angeles) will be participating in this year's events.
"In the past 10 years, the festival has provided scholarships for admissions to various universities around the world. These scholarships have often gone to youth from poverty-stricken neighborhoods."
Pérez concludes, "with the diversity and quality of artists that we bring to Panama, our first commitment has always been to showcase the best of what jazz can offer."