In 2023, the Panama Jazz Festival marked its 20th edition with a hybrid format, drawing over 40,000 enthusiasts to its diverse array of events. The festival, culminating in a sold-out outdoor show, saw Artistic Director Danilo Perez reflecting on the transformation of the central square of the city of knowledge, once a USA military base during his childhood. Perez expressed his delight, stating, “The Panama Jazz Festival 2023 commemoration ushered in a new era, and this coming year we must contemplate serving over 40,000 individuals, which is both a blessing and a challenge.”
As the festival gears up for its 21st edition to run from January 15-20, 2024, a notable highlight is the honoring of Panamanian jazz drummer Billy Cobham, who, at 80 years old, will perform with his fusion group Spectrum 50, the trio featuring Danilo Perez on piano and Alex Blake on bass, and the Global Jazz Big Band composed of musicians from around the world. Cobham, born in Panama, expressed his gratitude, envisioning a legacy that extends beyond the concert stage to areas of education.
Danilo Perez, co-founder of the festival in 2003, describes Cobham as “an essential figure in jazz history, and his influence can be evident in the work of today’s most notable drummers.” The festival, known for its contributions to rescuing and documenting Panamanian Jazz history, dedicates its XXI edition to Cobham with pride and honor.
The festival’s lineup includes an array of international and national artists. The Ron Savage Trio, Cuban drummer Calixto Oviedo, and the Global Jazz Womxn, featuring Patricia Zarate, Lihi Haruhi, Zahili Zamora, Ciara Moser, and Ivanna Cuesta, promise diverse and enriching performances. Brazilian duo Pablo Fagundes and Marcus Moraes, Chilean band Orion Lion & Afroritual, Cuban violinist Tanmy Lopez, and Argentinean Guillermo Nojechowicz will also grace the stage. National projects like Hijas del Jazz Orchestra with special guest director Sheila Del Bosque and Panamanian singer Solinka will contribute to the festival’s vibrancy.
The festival’s venues, including the Anayansi Theater, Ateneo Theater, and Villa Agustina, will host a week of concerts, showcasing jazz in all its facets. The festival’s educational events, held at the City of Knowledge, will feature distinguished institutions like Berklee College of Music, the Berklee Global Jazz Institute, the New England Conservatory, and more. The Berklee Global Jazz Institute will celebrate 15 years with a special group led by bassist Marion Hayden. Additionally, the festival will host the 12th Latin American Music Therapy Symposium and other important symposiums focusing on Native Peoples and the Culture and Music of Afro-Panamanians.
The 21st Panama Jazz Festival, set against the backdrop of the City of Knowledge, will see a convergence of jazz fans, musicians, and educators. The Marriot Panama Hotel will serve as the official hotel, and the festival will feature both live and streamed performances, ensuring a global reach. Produced by Panama Jazz Productions and co-produced by the City of Knowledge, the festival aims to benefit the social programs of the Danilo Pérez Foundation, with support from Panama’s Ministry of Culture and sponsors.
Last modified: January 5, 2024