Overture Presents Jazz Greats’ 100th Birthday Tour

For immediate release: Friday, March 3, 2017
Contact: Sarah Knab, 608.258.4438 /

Interview opportunities available – advance phoners and in-town on March 16. Contact Sarah for details.

Celebrating 100 Years: Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Mongo Santamaria, Thelonious Monk

Featuring an all-star lineup led by Musical Director, former Gillespie pianist Danilo Pérez

Madison, Wis. – Overture Center is proud to welcome Jazz 100, the centennial celebration for four visionary icons of music all born in 1917: Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Mongo Santamaria and Thelonious Monk. The performance in Overture Hall on Thursday, March 16, 2017, at 7:30 p.m., showcases both the dynamic individual artistry of each icon and the powerful unifying threads between them which helped shape and inform not only the evolution of jazz but modern music as we now recognize it.

Musical Director and former Gillespie pianist Danilo Pérez has carefully assembled a world-class ensemble of virtuosos, bandleaders and composers including Chris Potter (saxophone, woodwinds), Avishai Cohen (trumpet), Wycliffe Gordon (trombone, vocals), Lizz Wright (vocals), Roman Diaz (percussion, vocals), Ben Street (bass) and Adam Cruz (drums) to reflect and pay homage to some of history’s most important and timeless musical voices.

Tickets start at $30 and are available in person at the Overture Center Ticket Office (201 State Street), online at or by phone at 608.258.4141.

Jazz 100 is presented by Overture Center as part of the Bell Laboratories Music Series.


Pianist, composer, educator and social activist, Danilo Pérez is among the most influential and dynamic musicians of our time. Born in Panama in 1965, Pérez started his musical studies when he was three years old 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 the prestigious Berklee College of Music. While still a student, he performed with Jon Hendricks, Terence Blanchard, and Paquito D’Rivera and soon began touring and/or recording with artists such as Dizzy Gillespie United Nations Orchestra from (1989-1992), Jack DeJohnette, Tito Puente, Charlie Haden, Michael Brecker, Joe Lovano, Wynton Marsalis, and Roy Haynes. In 2000, Danilo joined Wayne Shorter, to form Shorter’s great quartet with John Patitucci and Brian Blade. Since 2003 he has been touring with regular trio featuring Ben Street and Adam Cruz. Children of The Light, a collaboration with fellow Wayne Shorter Quartet members John Patitucci and Brian Blade released their debut album of the same name on Mack Avenue in September of 2015 to critical acclaim.

In 1993, Pérez turned his focus to his own ensembles and recording projects, releasing eight albums as a leader, earning Grammy and Latin Grammy nominations for Central Avenue (1989), Motherland (2000), and Across The Crystal Sea (2008). In 1996 he was signed by producer- Tommy Lipuma to join the Impulse label and recorded Panamonk , a tribute to Thelonious Monk which DownBeat claimed to be “one of the most important jazz piano albums”. Pérez released Providencia, his debut for Mack Avenue Records, in August of 2010 which was nominated for a 2011 Grammy® Award in the category of “Best Instrumental Jazz Album.” As a composer he has been commissioned by Lincoln Center, The Banff Center, Chicago Jazz Festival and Imani Winds Quintet among others. In 2015, Pérez premiered two brand new commissions “Expeditions- Panamania 2015” at the Panamerican games in Toronto and “Detroit World Suite- La leyenda de Bayano “ at the Detroit Jazz Festival.

Pérez, who served as Goodwill Ambassador to UNICEF, has received a variety of awards for his musical achievements, activism and social work efforts. He 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.


A world-class soloist, accomplished composer, and formidable bandleader, Grammy Award nominated saxophonist Chris Potter has emerged as a leading light of his generation. Potter’s music shows limitless creativity and a vibrant sense of swing, prompting critics, musicians, and fans alike to cite him as the one of the finest saxophonists today. Throughout his career, Potter has performed and recorded with artists as diverse as Steely Dan and Herbie Hancock, and has toured the world over with the Dave Holland Quintet, the Overtone Quartet, and his own projects like the jazz-funk group, Chris Potter’s Underground.


Voted a Rising Star three years running in the DownBeat Critics Poll — Trumpeter Avishai Cohen has become globally recognized as a musician with an individual sound and a questing spirit, an ever-creative player-composer open to multiple strains of jazz and active as a leader, co-leader and sideman. Aside from the acclaimed trio work under the moniker Triveni, the trumpeter also records and tours the world as part of the Mark Turner Quartet, and with the 3 Cohens Sextet —with his sister, clarinetist-saxophonist Anat, and brother, saxophonist Yuval. Cohen was also a member of the prestigious SFJazz Collective for several years until 2015. Cohen was named as the Artistic Director of the International Jerusalem Festival in 2015. In February 2016, Cohen released and began touring behind his highly anticipated ECM debut, Manfred Eicher produced, Into the Silence to unanimous critical praise.


Trombonist and educator Wycliffe Gordon experiences an impressive career touring the world performing hard-swinging, straight-ahead jazz receiving great acclaim from audiences and critics alike. His unmatched modern mastery of the plunger mute, exceptional technique and signature sound has solidified Gordon a place in musical history as one of the top trombonists of his generation. Gordon is a three-time recipient of The Downbeat Critics Poll “Best in Trombone” while Jazz Journalists Association named him “Trombonist of the Year” eight times since 2001. He recently received the Louis Armstrong Memorial Prize presented by the Swing Jazz Culture Foundation, and was named Artist of the Year by the Augusta Arts Council. Gordon has released eighteen solo CDs and seven coleader CDs, as well as on countless projects with other artists including Wynton Marsalis, Paul Simon, Natalie Merchant, Dianne Reeves, Anat Cohen, Ricky Skaggs, Arturo Sandoval and Doc Severinsen to name a few.


Lizz Wright has been charming music fans worldwide ever since she appeared on the late pianist and composer Joe Sample’s 2002 disc, The Pecan Tree (Verve). The following year, she gained even wider recognition for her critically acclaimed debut record, Salt (Verve). Produced by the legendary Tommy LiPuma – best known for his award-winning work with George Benson, Diana Krall, and Natalie Cole – the album helped introduce one of the most captivating female vocalists of her generation as it raced to number two on Billboard’s “Top Contemporary Jazz” chart. After releasing four acclaimed records for Verve, Wright moved to Concord Records to release her fifth disc, Freedom & Surrender. With Freedom & Surrender, her most personal and genre-defying album yet, Wright achieved her career first Billboard #1 Contemporary Jazz record. In addition to the incredible chart position, critics have unanimously applauded the release as the career defining work in her cannon.


New York-area jazz double bassist Ben Street is one of the most sought after bassists in Jazz. After studying at The New England Conservatory of Music in Boston with Miroslav Vitous and Dave Holland, Street went on to perform and record with many great jazz artists, notably Kurt Rosenwinkel on the Album “Next Step,” Ben Monder on the Album “Dust” and the legendary Sam Rivers on the Album “Violet Violets.” Street has performed and toured with Danilo Perez, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Roswell Rudd, Lee Konitz, John Scofield, David Sanchez, Terence Blanchard, and many others. Street is the son of Saxophonist and Saxophone mouthpiece maker Bill Street and is a native of Maine.


Drummer, composer, and educator Adam Cruz was born in New York City and has been a vital creative force on the international jazz scene for the last two decades. He leads his own group, is an integral part of renowned pianist Danilo Pérez’s trio, and regularly works with artists such as Tom Harrell, The Mingus Big Band, Joey Calderazzo, Chris Potter, Steve Wilson and Edward Simon. Adam currently teaches at CCNY and the Berklee Global Jazz Institute. As a drummer, Adam represents a unique place in the American jazz lineage. His mixed ethnic background informs his playing in ways that transcend easy stylistic categorization. The wealth of his rhythmic knowledge, his deep sense of jazz swing and his knowledge of Latin American rhythms, all coalesce into his personal sound, giving his playing a powerful depth and a rare and distinctive musicality.


Venerated elder statesman Román Díaz, a master percussionist from Havana, Cuba, an important Olú Aña or “keeper of the sacred drum” – 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. Díaz has participated in notable projects by Jane Bunnett, Michele Rosewoman, Danilo Pérez, Omar Sosa, David Virelles and Henry Threadgill among others. Díaz has been featured on compilations including the Calle 54 soundtrack and the Grammy-nominated Raíces Habaneras project.

OVERTURE CENTER FOR THE ARTS in Madison, Wisconsin features seven state-of-the-art performance spaces and five galleries where national and international touring artists, ten resident companies and hundreds of local artists engage people in over half a million educational and artistic experiences each year.


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