Tag Archives: Panamanian music

The Multiple Sides of Ruben Blades

Ruben Blades Presents Paraiso Road Gan

Ruben Blades Presents Paraiso Road Gang (RB Records, 2019)

Famed singer-songwriter, producer and actor Ruben Blades is enjoying a highly productive phase. Recently, he has released excellent salsa and jazz albums, appears as an actor in the great zombie spinoff Fear the Walking Dead TV series and develops other fun projects. Ruben Blades Presents Paraiso Road Gan is an endeavor where Ruben takes music in a different direction and showcases Panamanian talent as well.

“As an artist, part of my function is to provoke reactions, stimulate discussion and tear down stereotypes,” says Ruben about Paraiso Road Gang.

In the album credits, Ruben appears as El Hijo de Anoland (Anoland’s son). Anoland Diaz is Ruben’s mother and he uses this artistic name when he experiments with other musical genres.

The album opens with the song “No te Calles,” a collaboration with alternative rock band Making Movies. The group includes two Panamanian brothers, guitarist and vocalist Enrique Chi and bassist Diego Chi; and Mexican brothers Juan Chaurand on percussion and keyboards and Andrés Chaurand on drums. On this piece, rock meets a wall of global drums.

“El País” is a delightful rock song with engaging lyrics in Spanish, elegant jazz trumpet and overall excellent vocal work.

On “Love Me or Leave Me,” Ruben switches to irresistible roots reggae with English vocals and a rocking guitar solo.

Says Ruben about Paraiso Road Gan : “This album represents the fulfillment of an intention that I expressed more than three decades ago. Make a record with material other than what I usually interpret and produce, in Spanish and English. This is “Paraiso Road Gang.”

On “Templo de Agua,” Ruben collaborates with renowned American bagpiper Eric Rigler from Bad Haggis. It’s a potent mix of rock and world music with Celtic influences and vocals in Spanish.

Panamanian rapper Pash appears on “Panamá Gris,” a song that incorporates salsa and rock.

“Nación Rica, Nación Pobre” is a Spanish language blues-rock song; a sharp socially conscious comparison between life for blacks in Haiti and the United States and also a critique of world powers.

Pop love song “Mírame” gives voice to singer-songwriter Horacio Valdés.

“Dime (Que puedo hacer sin Ti)” presents a love song with folk, rock and pop elements.

The final track, “La China Medina” is a really fun piece with rock, funk and retro disco beats and strings.

Paraiso Road Gang

The lineup includes El Hijo de Anoland on vocals; Luis Enrique Becerra on keyboards and chorus; Marco Linares on guitars; Daniel Ortega on drums; Ademir Berrocal on percussion; Germán “Chispa” Lawson on bass; Juan Carlos “Wichy” López on first trumpet and Flugelhorn; Alejandro “Chichisin” Castillo on second trumpet and flugelhorn; Avenicio Núñez on first rombione; Francisco Delvecchio on second trombone; Carlos Ubarte on alto, tenor and baritone saxophones; Karla Vargas on chorus; Carlos Pérez Bidó on batá drums; Roberto Delgado on bass; Jose Ramón Guerra on percussion; Raúl “Toto” Rivera on percussion; Marcos Barraza on congas; Juan Antonio Berna on piano; Idígoras Bethancourt on trombone; Enrique Santamaría on guitars and bass; Néstor González on tenor saxophone; and Ladislao Becerra on harmonica.

“This new genre, “Mixtura”, allows me to present musical explorations that are fun and at the same time educate me,” adds Ruben. “Leaving the comfort zone is something necessary for the creative mind and I will continue to do it periodically. It is something that helps us grow and that prevents indifference from taking over our life.”

Buy Paraiso Road Gang


Artist Profiles: Danilo Pérez

Danilo Pérez

Danilo Pérez’s intelligent, exciting and stylistically authentic piano sounds have made him a leader in the new generation of jazz musicians. Wynton Marsalis recognized Pérez’s talent and versatility when he invited the young pianist to tour Poland with him in 1995, making him the first Latin artist to perform in his band. Pérez earned high marks from the demanding bandleader for his ability to easily crossover from his Latin music roots to perform Jazz classics.

Danilo Pérez was born in Panama in 1966. He began his musical studies at the age of three when his father, a bandleader and singer, gave him a set of bongos. Pérez started playing piano five years later, studying the European classical repertoire at the National Conservatory in Panama. While a teen he played in Edgardo Quintero’s orchestra with his father, playing dance music at country clubs and society balls. Pérez won a scholarship to study jazz and classical music at Indiana (Pa.) University. In 1985 he went to the Berklee School of Music in Boston to study and discovered his love for Jazz. “The first time I heard Bill Evans, I flipped,” he recalls. “I never knew the piano could sound so beautiful.”

In 1987, Pérez took time off from school to perform with local legend Jon Hendricks. While finishing his degree in Jazz composition, he put his Latin background to good use, dividing his time between playing keyboards for Brazilian trumpeter Claudio Roditi and assuming piano and musical director responsibilities for Paquito D’Rivera’s Havana-New York Music Ensemble. Pérez produced the critically-acclaimed Reunion album (Messidor) featuring D’Rivera and trumpeter Arturo Sandoval.

Pérez was honored as the Most Outstanding Musicians by the Boston Jazz Society in 1989 and was also selected as a semi-finalist in the Thelonious Monk Competition held in Washington DC. His command of the eclectic, post-bop Latin style solidified during a four year tenure (1989-1992) with Dizzy Gillespie. A high recommendation from D’Rivera helped Pérez land his gig with the innovative trumpeter and his United Nations Orchestra. Pérez performed during induction ceremonies at the Kennedy Center Lifetime Achievement Awards when Gillespie was honored by the U.S. President and other dignitaries.

Pérez composed much of the musical score for a 1990 European film starring Gillespie, “The Winter in Lisbon”, and performed on the soundtrack with Gillespie, Grady Tate and George Mraz. Pérez is featured on Gillespie’s United Nations Orchestra release, the 1992 Grammy award-winning Live at the Royal Festival Hall (Enja). He toured worldwide with Freddie Hubbard, Red Rodney, Claudio Roditi, James Moody, Jimmy Heath, Slide Hampton, George Mraz and Louis Nash during the Diamond Jubilee Celebration Tribute to Gillespie. The Diamond Jubilee Tribute culminated in a live recording at the Blue Note, To Bird With Love (Telarc), a project that featured Pérez.

He also performed with George Benson, Clark Terry, Terence Blanchard, Brandford Marsalis, Roy Haynes, Charlie Haden, Lionel Hampton, Joe Lovano, Steve Turre, Dave Valentine, Paul Motian, Flora Purim, Nick Brignola, Jay Ashby, Tom Harrell and others. Pérez performed as a special guest artist on Arturo Sandoval’s 1994 Grammy-winning album in the Best Latin Jazz category, Danzón. Pérez’s own projects have received favorable response from critics, musicians and fans. His self-titled debut recording, with Jack DeJohnette, Joe Lovano, Santi Debriano, Rubén Blades and David Sanchez, established his intent to successfully meld contemporary Western classical and Jazz repertoires with Latin rhythms.

His second Novus release of original compositions, The Journey, is an epic dreamscape which traces the African experience in the Americas. Featuring Andy Gonzalez, bass; Ignacio Berroa, drums; Giovanni Hidalgo, Kimati Dinizulu and Milton Cardona, percussion; Larry Grenadier, bass; George Garzone, tenor sax and David Sanchez, tenor and soprano sax, Pérez takes his music a step forward rather than simply creating a synthesis of Latin music, Jazz and classical.

In 1995, Pérez was invited to perform with The Panamanian Symphony Orchestra in both his native country and Venezuela. The first part of the program presented the music of George Gershwinthe second featured part of Pérez’s The Journey.

One of Pérez’s most spectacular collaborations was on the “Calima” album by Spanish flamenco guitar wizard, Gerardo Núñez. Cultural traces and a variety of musical influences are the essence of Pérez work. “I’ve been working on this kind of mixture,” Pérez explains. “I want the music to meld, so you can’t simply say, ‘that’s Latin music, this is Jazz and that is classical’. It is just music. Even though we’re playing Latin rhythms, my music always involves African elements, cross rhythms and odd meters. The instruments selected by my percussion players often come from Africa. I mix all that with my vision of the blues, contemporary Jazz, with swing and other traditions, and with elements of my own childhood classical training.”


Reunion (Messidor, 1991)
Danilo Perez (Novus, 1993
Tales From The Reefs (One By One Records, 1993
The Journey (RCA, 1994)
Panamonk (Impulse!, 1996)
The Outsider (Savant Records, 1997)
Central Avenue (Impulse!, 1998)
The Roy Haynes Trio Featuring Danilo Perez & John Patitucci (Verve Records, 2000)
Motherland (Verve Records, 2000)
…Till Then (Verve Records, 2003)
Across The Crystal Sea (EmArcy, 2008)
Music We Are (Golden Beams Productions, 2009)
Providencia (Mack Avenue, 2010)
Without A Net (Blue Note, 2013)
Children of the Light (Mack Avenue, 2015)


Rubén Blades’ Tribute to Legendary Latin Music Big Bands

Rubén Blades – Salsa Big Band (Rubén Blades Producciones, 2017)

Rubén Blades, one of the undisputed masters of salsa music, has released his second album recorded with the formidable Roberto Delgado & Orquesta. As the album title indicates, this recording is a tribute to the 1950s jazz and Latin jazz big bands, many of which were influenced by Cuban music big bands.

There is plenty of well-deserved Panamanian pride in this album. Rubén Blades hails from Panama and Roberto Delgado & Orquesta are Panamanian as well and the album was recorded in Panama. The partnership between Rubén Blades and superb arranger and big band leader Roberto Delgado delivers a set of outstanding songs where you’ll find the best of salsa and Latin jazz, highlighting Rubén’s unique vocals and masterful songwriting along with a large combo of talented instrumentalists.



The lineup on Salsa Big Band includes Rubén Blades on lead and backing vocals; Roberto Delgado on baby bass, electric bass, acoustic bass and backing vocals; Juan Berna on piano; Marcos Barraza on congas; Carlos Pérez-Bidó on timbales; Raúl “Toto” Rivera on bongo, bell, güiros and maracas; Ademir Berrocal on congas, timbales, bongo and bell; Juan Carlos “Wichy” López on trumpets; Alejandro “Chichisín” Castillo on trumpets and trombones; Francisco Delvecchio on trombone; Avenicio “Pin” Núñez on trombone; Carlos Ubarte on soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophone; Luis Enrique Becerra on keyboards.

Guests: Ricky Rodriguez on piano; Juan Carlos De León on piano; Robinson Fereira on piano; and Pablo Governatori on drums.

Salsa Big Band demonstrates that Rubén Blades is still at the top of the salsa world; a candidate for one of the best albums of the year.

Buy the Salsa Big Band digital download version