Dizzy GiIlespe pianist Danilo Perez will lead an all-star ensemble in Jazz 100, a tribute to the music of Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Mongo Santamaria and Thelonious Monk (photo courtesy of Berklee College of Music).

Pianist Danilo Pérez to Lead Symphony Center "Jazz 100" Program Spotlighting Legends of the Genre

On March 17th, the Symphony Center Presents (SCP) Jazz series will welcome former Dizzy Gillespie pianist Danilo Pérez and an all-star ensemble in a program entitled "Jazz 100: The Music of Dizzy, Ella, Mongo and Monk." The program celebrates the centennial birthdays of jazz icons Ella Fitzgerald, trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, percussionist Mongo Santamaria, and pianist Thelonious Monk, all born in 1917.

​The evening features both tributes as well as modern remixes of classic tunes from these legendary artists including Gillespie’s Manteca, Fitzgerald’s Shiny Stockings, Monk’s Off Minor and Mongo’s Afro Blue. Joining Pérez for this tribute will be Chris Potter (saxophones), Avishai Cohen (trumpet), Wycliffe Gordon (trombone), Ben Street (bass), Adam Cruz (drums), Roman Diaz (percussion), and Lizz Wright (vocals).

​“It was an amazing coincidence that these jazz greats were born in the same year,” Pérez said. “They’re the most important for the Afro-Americano sound, both of the past and present. This performance comes at a critical time in our country, where we all need hope, peace and joy. I selected these works to show how we can get so much greatness from globalization and how this acceptance and joyful celebration of diversity is the essence of humanity. Music can bring cultures and people together, no matter their age or experience. It is an effective diplomatic tool.”

Pérez has received several Grammy and Latin Grammy nominations for his solo works and has performed with acclaimed ensembles and artists such as Gillespie’s United Nations Orchestra, Tito Puente, Charlie Haden and Wynton Marsalis, among others, as well as being a founding member of The Wayne Shorter Quartet. Pérez currently serves as UNESCO Artist for Peace, cultural ambassador to the Republic of Panama, founder and artistic director of the Panama Jazz Festival, and artistic director of the Berklee Global Jazz Institute in Boston’s Berklee College of Music.

​Joining Pérez in the rhythm section will be bassists Ben Street, drummer Adam Cruz and percussionist Roman Diaz who is considered a pillar of the New York City jazz avant-garde and one of Afro Cuban music’s great innovators. As a member of Cuba’s groundbreaking Rumba group Yoruba Andabo, Díaz aided in the creation of the sound that has defined rumba since the 1980s and performed and/or recorded with legends including Merceditas Valdes. Street has performed and recorded with great jazz artists such as Kurt Rosenwinkel, Ben Monder, and the legendary Sam Rivers. Cruz leads his own group and regularly works with artists such as Tom Harrell, The Mingus Big Band, Joey Calderazzo, Chris Potter, Steve Wilson and Edward Simon.The brass section includes Chris Potter on saxophone, Avishai Cohen on trumpet and Wycliffe Gordon on trombone.

Tickets for all Symphony Center Presents Jazz series concerts can be purchased by phone at 800-223-7114; online at cso.org, or at the Symphony Center box office: 220 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60604.