Panama’s Jazz Festival 2012- Watch For It!

 The album cover picturing Carlos Garnett is thanks to


The ninth Edition of Panama’s annual Jazz Festival promises to be another resounding success in January!

We’re excited about this festival having lived formerly near the northern California area of Guerneville where Jazz on the River is hosted annually for two days.  Panama’s Jazz Festival is, however, wider in scope and has an international appeal.  This year it will be as exciting as ever. More than the wonderful entertainment that will grace our country the mission behind this Festival is educational, something that always interests us.

Having been the brain child of Grammy award winning Jazz pianist, Danilo Perez, it was founded in September of 2003. According to his bio “Perez founded the festival with the mission of bettering the lives of people through shared musical experiences as listeners, on stage and in the classrooms.”  His vision for the event is that “By offering performances and educational activities of the highest order, as well as practical, hands on training in the music and entertainment business, the Panama Jazz Festival aims to inspire and educate while providing tools and opportunities to build a better future for individuals and their communities.”  The emphasis, therefore, is on music education and Panama is in sore need of it!

This year from January 16th  through 21st  2012 the Panama Jazz Festival will offer such musical legends as John Scofield and his trio, from Puerto Rico Charlie Sepulveda, from Cuba Omara Portuondo and Chucho Valdes, Luis Bonilla and his group NEC from Costa Rica.  Also featured will be Tito Puente, Jr. with the Panama Jazz Festival Ensemble, directed by the Riqueña.  Another big name, our very own Carlos Garnett, jazz soprano and tenor saxophonist who was born in Red Tank, will be the guest of honor.  Teri Roiger will also sing in duet with John Menegon.

Of course, what we love about this annual cultural journey in Panama is the fact that everyone is invited to participate in the musical clinics that will be conducted this year at the City of Knowledge which is on the former Ft. Clayton.  This idea lends a different twist to this musical tradition as it “gives back” to the Panamanian community something of what Perez gained in his travels and experiences abroad.

Speaking of Danilo Perez, his life has been interesting to say the least, and he has fulfilled many of his dreams.  He has been a Fulbright Scholar, Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF, Cultural Ambassador for Panama, and educator and founder of the Berklee Global Jazz Institute at Berklee College of Music, in Boston, Massachusetts.

Before coming to enjoy the Jazz Festival you might consider having someone drop you off for the evening as parking is always an issue but, for some reason, this year I believe the organizers will provide better solutions.

Aside from this, the cafes and restaurants in the area of Casco Viejo (San Felipe) are excellent and the ambience is wonderful.

Don’t miss it!