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April 2017 Issue: The Late Great Larry Coryell

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Global grooves accent the Panama Jazz Festival

At the midway point, the five day annual Panama Jazz Festival continued its focus on global grooves and music education for several hundred young musicians from many nations who are in attendance. A group titled “Tributo a Chile” — an ensemble of musicians from Chile, Costa Rica, Panama and the U.S. Guitarist Tom Patitucci was a special guest, playing intricate rhythmic lines that reflected the influence of indigenous Chilean rhythms. A trio of female vocalists fronted the group, including a young woman from the country of Malta.


The evening’s concert highlights began with a six member group led by Panamanian percussionist Omar Diaz and his group Dede. Including the trombonist from France and a female vocalist who used digital devices to generate a range of vocal effects, the group’s eclectic style ranged from funky Panamanian folk rhythms to spacey, avant-garde-style arrangements that included festive sound effects and churning polyrhythms. The performance reminded some of a tropical incarnation of Sun Ra.


The closing concert featured bassist John Patitucci, a member of festival founder Danilo Perez’s trio and longtime veteran of Panama Jazz Festival appearances, guitarists Adam Rogers and Steve Cardenas, and Perez trio drummer Brian Blade. Dubbed the John Patitucci Electric Guitar Quartet, the unit incorporated a range of influences, from Thelionious Monk to B.B. King, all wrapped up in a rhythmically-dynamic, guitar-centric package that won countless audience ovations.


The festival continues today with an all-star concert featuring drummer Terri Lyne Carrington.


Article and photo by Mark Holston

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