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Panamanian Suite

Reimagining Panama's Musical and Cultural Narratives of Jazz

Author: Patricia Zárate de Pérez

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“A fascinating tour through the presence of Panama in international musical compositions in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries—and then the presence and impact of Panamanian musicians in the making of global jazz itself. If your mental map of the origins of jazz does not include the isthmus of Panama and its emigrants, it turns out, you’ve been missing a central part of the plot.”

—Lara Putnam, University of Pittsburgh

“Patricia Zarate de Perez has written a much-needed treatise, capturing today’s artists in the pursuit of unlimited inspirational paths of discovery.”

—Wayne Shorter, musician

“Instructive, objective and rich in information, this is a necessary and truly exceptional book.” —Rubén Blades, musician

“Patricia Zarate de Perez has given us a unique, powerful, historically thorough, and artistically delivered document.”

—John Patitucci, Berklee College of Music



Panamanian Suite narrates the complex relationship between Panama and the United States by tracing the paths of their music, tracking the development of jazz in Panama from the mid-nineteenth century to the modern day through three movements: pre-jazz, jazz, and global jazz. As a vital port of Caribbean migration in the twentieth century, Panama played an essential role in the emergence and shaping of jazz and other cultural forms, many of which influenced culture on the mainland United States. Patricia Zarate de Perez explores new narratives of jazz from a Pan-Afro-Latin American perspective, beginning with an examination of music that contributed to a Panamanian imaginary which justified the expansion of imperial territories beginning in the mid-nineteenth century. This Panamanian imaginary and the white supremacy embedded within it also served as a basis for the erasure of the contributions of Panamanians throughout jazz history, but not without resistance—modern Panamanian artists and cultural leaders continue to enact redressing actions even now. The book documents a history of jazz in Panama, naming its principal characters and culminating with the development of Global Jazz, a twenty-first-century imaginary centered on the next generation of musicians and their place in jazz history.

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JANUARY 16th, 2024. 3-5pm 

Book Presentation (with live music, special guests: Global Jazz Womxn)

21st Panama Jazz Festival, City of Knowledge Convention Center HERE

MARCH 1st, 2024. 11am-1pm

Book Presentation (with live music, special guests: Global Jazz Womxn)

Berklee College of Music, Boston, MA. David Friend Recital Hall  HERE

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