Being in a Dream Come True: Danilo Pérez Quintet @ SFJazz, Oct. 14, 2018

Posted on in Art + Soul by Roy Strassman

What can you say about a dream when you’re in it? That’s how it felt during my most recent dream-come-true musical experience. There is much to say.

Pianist/composer and leader apparent Danilo Pérez, Israeli trumpeter/composer Avishai Cohen, renowned reedman and composer Chris Potter, Larry Grenadier (one of New York’s “go to” bassists), and attentive drummer Nate Smith gave a performance dedicated to iconic women, ironically delivered by an all-male band. One of the evening’s higherthan-high points was Cohen’s magnificent three-movement symphony “Innovation: Africa”— dedicated to Sivan Ya’ari, founder of the eponymously named project that has brought food, power, and water to more than 160 million Africans—that culminated in a hairsingeing blaze. Cohen’s use of beauteous long, sweeping phrases instantly made me a lifelong fan of his playing. He then offered a thoughtful and beautifully declaimed reading/translation of Israeli poet Zelda’s untitled poem on the subject of departure/death. The final two pieces were Pérez’s musical rendering of works by Maya Angelou and Angela Davis.

This performance will forever stand out. I was awed not only by the compositional daring, mold-breaking arrangements, and superb musicianship, but also by each musician’s exquisite sensitivity to the works of his fellow travelers, fostering some of the most incredible interplay ever. I pray that this spontaneously formed band congeals into a new force in jazz.


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