Born in Panama in 1965, Pérez started his musical studies when he was three with his father, a bandleader and singer. By age 10, he was studying the European classical piano repertoire at the National Conservatory in Panama. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in electronics in Panama, he studied jazz composition at Berklee College of Music. While still a student, he performed with Jon Hendricks, Terence Blanchard, Slide Hampton, Claudio Roditi and Paquito D’Rivera. He soon toured and/or recorded with artists such as Dizzy Gillespie United Nations Orchestra from 1989-1992, Jack DeJohnette, Steve Lacy, Lee Konitz, Charlie Haden, Michael Brecker, Joe Lovano, Tito Puente, Wynton Marsalis, Tom Harrell, Gary Burton, and Roy Haynes. In 2000, Danilo joined Wayne Shorter to form Shorter's quartet with John Patitucci and Brian Blade. In 1993, Pérez turned his focus to his own ensembles and recording projects, releasing eight albums as a leader, earning several GRAMMY and Latin GRAMMY nominations. In 1996 he was signed by producer Tommy Lipuma to join the Impulse label and recorded Panamonk, a tribute to Thelonious Monk. Providencia, his debut for Mack Avenue Records, was nominated for a 2011 GRAMMY Award. As a composer, he has received commissions from Lincoln Center, Chicago Jazz Festival, Imani Winds Quintet, Carnegie Hall, and The Banff Centre. Pérez served as Goodwill Ambassador to UNICEF, and 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. His latest album, Children Of The Light, a collaboration with fellow Wayne Shorter Quartet members John Patitucci and Brian Blade, was released on Mack Avenue in September of 2015.
While at Princeton, Danilo Pérez will participate in a workshop with student musicians in the Princeton Jazz Program, directed by Rudresh Mahanthappa; a public conversation at the Lewis Center on February 23 at 2pm, and a concert with the Jazz Group I on February 24, at 8pm, at Richardson Auditorium.