There may be no cultural event in Panama with a broader and more lasting impact than the Jazz Festival. Not only does the music draw large audiences to the many festival stages, but it also allows Panamanians of diverse backgrounds to explore their talents through jam sessions and the scholarships offered by Berklee University.
This year, the concerts begin on Monday, January 10 with Panama Connections and Mayra Hurley. Panama Connections, consisting of Danilo Pérez Foundation teachers and scholarship students, explores the creative interweaving of jazz and Pan-African folklore. The soulful Mayra Hurley draws inspiration from her multi-cultural roots, blending funk, salsa, and rock ‘n’ roll.
The Borderlands trio (bass player Stephan Crump, drummer Eric McPherson, and pianist Kris Davis) will appear on Tuesday, January 11. Idania Dowman, who is known for her virtuosity and faithfulness to her Afro-jazz essence, will also perform that night.
The Gala Night concert will take place January 12 at the National Theater. Event director and Panamanian music legend Danilo Pérez will team up with Kurt Elling, a two-time Grammy winner and one of the world’s standout jazz vocalists. Elling is recognized for his singular combination of muscular swing and keen poetic vision.
On Thursday, January 13, Global Messengers —directed by Danilo Pérez and with members from Palestine, the United States, Greece, Jordan, and Panama— will perform at the Atheneum in the City of Knowledge.
The Atheneum will also host Antonio Hart with the Berklee Jazz Institute, and Panamanian salsa singer Solinka. Hart has collaborated on more than one hundred recordings and recorded eight of his own CDs as principal artist. He studied jazz at Berklee College in Boston and completed a master’s degree at Queens College. Solinka was working as a public servant in 1950 when a Cuban agent convinced her to try her luck as a professional salsa singer. She became a sensation in Perú and returned to Panama as a star.