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Doris Duke Artist Awards

Danilo Pérez

Pianist and Composer
Quincy, MA 

Danilo Pérez, a 2021 Doris Duke Artist in the jazz category, is a pianist and composer known for his innovative blend of sounds drawing from Panamanian roots, Latin American folk, West African rhythms and European impressionism to create global jazz music that serves as a borderless and multidimensional bridge between all people.  

Pérez has released 11 albums as a bandleader, received three Grammy Awards and frequently collaborates with other prominent musicians. His latest band is Global Messengers, formed by musicians from Palestine, Greece, Jordan and the United States. He is also the founder and artistic director of the Panama Jazz Festival and the Berklee Global Jazz Institute in Boston's Berklee College of Music. 

In 1989, Pérez became the youngest member appointed to Dizzy Gillespie's United Nations Orchestra. In 1996, Pérez was signed by producer Tommy Lipuma to join the Impulse label and recorded "Panamonk," a tribute to Thelonious Monk, which DownBeat hailed as one of the essential piano albums in jazz history. Pérez's album "Central Avenue" featuring Mejoranera music, a style of Panamanian folklore singing, was chosen as one of TIME Magazine's top ten across genres in 1998, and the New York Times selected his Motherland recording as the best jazz record of 2000. 

In 2001, Pérez joined the quartet of fellow 2021 Doris Duke Artist Wayne Shorter, with bassist John Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade, to form one of the most innovative and influential bands of the 21st century. 

Pérez has received multiple awards for his musical achievements, activism and social work efforts. Currently, he serves as UNESCO Artist for Peace and Cultural Ambassador to the Republic of Panama. He received a United States Artists Fellowship in 2018 and the Smithsonian Legacy Award in 2009. As a composer, he has been commissioned by Lincoln Center, the Detroit Jazz Festival, and the Imani Winds Quintet, among others. Carnegie Hall commissioned his octet for members of Venezuela's Simón Bolivar Symphony Orchestra. In 2014, the Banff Centre commissioned Pérez to write a piano quintet for the Cecilia String Quartet titled "Camino de Cruces," and he also composed the music for the Museum of Biodiversity in Panama, designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry. 

Meet the Other 2021 Doris Duke Artists