52 Jazz Tracks for 2021 (9. ‘Panamonk’ – Danilo Perez, 1996)

The ninth of Jon Turney’s weekly selection (introduced HERE), sees Thelonius Monk getting a rhythmic refresher from a dazzling pianist.

Panamonk album cover

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This isn’t purely a study in rhythm but rhythm is at the heart of the project. Danilo Perez loved Monk and saw his rhythmic strength as a key to his compositions. And then came the idea, as a Panamanian, to look at them again through the prism of latin music.

The result was one of the most joyful Monk projects, one that never fails to lift my mood. And the title track bottles the spirit that does that every time you lift the cork.

The whole session, with either Terri Lyne Carrington or Jeff Watts on drums and a young Avishai Cohen on bass, was an early landmark in Perez’s discography. The drummers – Watts on this track – are crucial to the way the music feels so charged. The sound is brilliant and bright throughout, which somehow adds urgency, the tempos fast, the beats from the piano placed just so.

The Monk tunes that make up most of the set really work well. But this Perez-penned piece remains a favourite: the same compelling rhythmic priorities, and a thumping melody of the pianist’s own that sounds, to me, genuinely Monkish. And fresh as paint a quarter century on.

LINKS: Listen on Spotify

Read Jon’s post in full on Bristol Jazz Log

Read Jon’s introduction to the ’52 tracks’ series

Week Eight: Archie Shepp and Horace Parlan ‘Go Down, Moses’

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