Danilo Pérez

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Motherland Review

by Alex Henderson

When most people hear the term Latin jazz, they think of a mixture of bop and Afro-Cuban rhythms -- bop mixed with son, mambo, cha-cha, guaguanco, danzón, and other Afro-Cuban styles that have been described as salsa. But Latin-flavored jazz doesn't have to be Afro-Cuban jazz; in fact, jazz is compatible with numerous Latin rhythms that didn't originate in Cuba. Technically, Danilo Pérez's Motherland is Latin jazz because it fuses jazz with Latin elements. But it isn't Afro-Cuban jazz, and it isn't the type of Cubop that people associate with Machito, Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, Cal Tjader, and Poncho Sanchez. Instead, this introspective, chance-taking CD finds Panamanian pianist Danilo Pérez combining post-bop with a variety of Latin rhythms, everything from Panamanian tamborito to the samba and baião of Brazil. Pérez also uses Afro-Cuban rhythms at times, but it's important to stress that salsa is only one of the many tools in his arsenal. There is no reason why Motherland cannot be described as Latin jazz, after all, it is jazz with a strong Latin flavor. But unlike other releases by Spanish-speaking jazz artists, this excellent CD demonstrates that Latin jazz isn't necessarily Afro-Cuban jazz.

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