Review: Danilo Perez


Danilo Perez Trio
(Ronnie Scott's, May 16th 2011, first night of two)


We learn rules, immutable laws. Because they help us to make sense of the world and our place in it. For some it is the three laws of thermodynamics. For others, perhaps, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. For many, the mere fact that their are two teams of eleven players, of whom one on each team can handle a spherical ball 27-28 inches in circumference.

And then there are phenomena on this earth which don't need those externally imposed rules, they can follow their own. They are competely free. Like the left hand of Panamanian pianist Danilo Perez.

Perez has been the regular pianist of that sanspareil supergroup, the Wayne Shorter Quartet. But what is remarkable about Perez' playing in the trio he has had for the past nine years with bassist Ben Street and drummer Adam Cruz is the extent to which all three players are rhythmically let off the leash. And yet their music-making has constant propulsion, forward momentum, the trio land together, con forza, on a dime, and people in the audience can naturally groove along to it. The trust, the watchfulness of this group defy belief and confound expectation.

In some tunes, a beautifully limpid Besame Mucho, for example or particularly a triumphally declaimed Monk's Ask Me Now the tunes were stated in a transparent 4/4, but then, progressively, the pulse, the harmonic rhythm would be subverted.

They are in town for one more night. Go.

Support tonight was from vocalist Polly Gibbons with the fine trio of James Pearson on piano, Laurence Cottle on bass and Pedro Segundo drums. Highlights were Gibbons' touching, emotional performance of Phoebe Snow's "Something Real (Before I Die)", and the trio's infectious propulsive backbeat groove to "I wish I knew" which rounded off their short set.

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