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Trombonist | © Ryan Loughlin / Unsplash
Trombonist | © Ryan Loughlin / Unsplash
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Why is Panama Such a Magnet for Jazz Artists?

Picture of Martina Gili
Updated: 16 October 2017
Under the mentoring of Panama’s world-renowned musician and composer Danilo Pérez, Panama is on its way to becoming the jazz capital of Latin America. With several international jazz festivals, a jazz school and a famous jazz club, the country is now an international destination for lovers of the genre.

It’s the country of legendary musician Danilo Pérez

Born in 1965, Danilo Pérez is a Panamanian pianist, composer and philanthropist. Educated at the Berklee College of Music, he has performed with artists of the caliber of Dizzy Gillepsie, Tito Puente, and Jon Hendricks and is one of the most influential jazz musicians of our times.

Danilo Pérez, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Rubén Blades
Danilo Pérez, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Rubén Blades | © US Embassy Panama / WikiCommons

Jazz music unifies Panama

Pérez is one of those Panamanians who took it on themselves to rebuild the country physically, economically, and spiritually after the fall of the dictator Noriega. A man of ambitions, his dream is that of creating a Panamanian style of jazz composition. His music has earned him Grammy and Latin Grammy Award nominations and has brought together people from all political factions in Panama.

It is home to some famous international jazz festivals

In 2003, Pérez and his family started the Panama Jazz Festival. The festival has hosted artists such as the Wayne Shorter Quartet, Herbie Hancock, and Jack DeJohnette. The festival provides a week of masterclasses with institutions such as Berklee College of Music and the New England Conservatory, and it also serves to finance the Danilo Perez Foundation. Another annual jazz and blues festival is held in Boquete.

The Danilo Pérez Foundation educates young Panamanians

Besides being an extraordinary musician, Perez is also a social activist. Having served as a Goodwill Ambassador to UNICEF, he created the Danilo Pérez Foundation to provide musical education to young people. His foundation has inspired hundreds of young people to lead productive lives and has formed a generation of Panamanian jazz musicians.

Danilo’s Jazz Club is a hub that spreads jazz culture within Panama

Danilo’s Jazz Club is Pérez’s dream becoming reality. With only 50 seats, this small world-class jazz club is an exciting venue that enriches the culture of Panama. Visited both by locals and travelers, the club fills Casco Viejo and the surrounding streets with music from local and international artists.

Danilo’s Jazz Club, Panama City
Danilo’s Jazz Club, Panama City | Courtesy of Danilo's Jazz Club