Danilo Pérez

Artistic Director

Grammy Award–winning pianist and composer Danilo Pérez is among the most influential and dynamic musicians of our time. In just over a decade, his distinctive blend of Pan-American jazz—incorporating the music of the Americas, folkloric music, and world music—has attracted critical acclaim and loyal audiences. Whether leading his own ensembles or touring with renowned jazz masters such as Wayne Shorter, Roy Haynes, and Steve Lacy, Pérez has made a decidedly fresh imprint on contemporary music, guided, as always, by his love for jazz.

Born in Panama in 1965, Pérez went to Berklee in the 1980s and has led his own groups since the early 1990s. As a bandleader, he has earned three Grammy nominations for his ebullient and innovative recordings. He has also worked as a music educator in the U.S. and around the world for more than 20 years. Currently, in addition to his role as artistic director of the Berklee Global Jazz Institute, Pérez serves as a UNESCO Artist for Peace, a cultural ambassador for Panama, and as artistic director of the Panama Jazz Festival. In previous years, he has served as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and he has received numerous awards for his social work in Latin America.

In 2015, Pérez premiered two commissions: “Expeditions—Panamania 2015” at the Pan American games in Toronto and “Detroit World Suite—La Leyenda de Bayano” at the Detroit Jazz Festival. Other recent accomplishments include an honorary doctorate from the University of Panama and the International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago 2015 Gloria Award.

Watch Pérez perform his original "Suite for the Americas" with Children of the Light, featuring John Patitucci on bass and Brian Blade on drums, as part of a Berklee Global Jazz Institute clinic: