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*** DANILO PEREZ "Central Avenue" Impulse!

October 18, 1998|Bill Kohlhaase

Panamanian pianist Perez has established a reputation for soaking jazz standards in Latin-based rhythms to intoxicating effect, most notably on his clever 1996 recording "PanaMonk." The new disc's title, the name of a culturally mixed thoroughfare in Panama City, hints at the wider, world-and-roots-music rhythms that grace such originals as "Impromptu (Conversations)" with its mix of tabla and congas.

Perez uses the voice of Luciana Souza to give John Coltrane's "Impressions" an ethereal, Middle Eastern feel. His long, solo entry into Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life" is commanding yet playful. Harris' three-part suite "Rhythm in Blue" looks to Thelonious Monk, sometimes too predictably, for inspiration. Heard on most cuts, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts prove extremely responsive to the pianist's grand sense of dynamic escalation. "Central Avenue" proves Perez adept at creating his own vehicles as well as refashioning familiar ones in his image.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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