About the Festival

Since its inception nearly 20 years ago, the Panama Jazz Festival has become a major Panamanian cultural event and tourist attraction.

Panama Jazz Festival

Since its inception nearly 20 years ago, the Panama Jazz Festival has become a major Panamanian cultural event and tourist attraction. People have come from all over to attend the festival and attendees to-date number over 300,000. Founded in September 2003 by Danilo Perez, the Panamanian pianist, Grammy winner, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, UNESCO Artist for Peace, and Cultural Ambassador of Panama, the Panama Jazz Festival supports its mission to improve the human experience through music in both on-stage performances and in classrooms.

The Danilo Perez Foundation (DPF), the major organizer and beneficiary of the Panama Jazz Festival, aims to inspire and educate people through music to help musicians and others to build a better future for their respective communities. By providing excellent classroom experiences, educational tools and a wide variety of musical and other life-changing opportunities, the DPF helps to meet some of the many challenges of the 21st Century, The artistic relationships and sustainable educational programs created by the festival and the foundation have become instrumental in helping to educate the general population both in Panama and throughout Latin America about the positive effects of music on society.

In Panama, an extraordinary bond has been fostered among governmental entities, private businesses and NGOs in support of the Panama Jazz Festival. Following sustainable development parameters, these groups support efforts to make the annual January event a continuing success that now attracts thousands of visitors from the world over as well as Panamanians from across the isthmus. The jazz festival has become part of “the Panamanian experience.”

Impact on Education

The Panama Jazz Festival has become a cultural “Bridge of the Americas” for talented students from throughout the region through its master music classes which contribute over $85,000 annually to specialized music education. These master classes, taught by music professionals, attract talent from throughout the Hemisphere resulting in a global example of “educational tourism” that is responsible, inclusive and equitable and that was previously unprecedented in Latin America.

In addition to master classes, the Panama Jazz Festival has other key educational aspects that have resulted in the week-long festival becoming a forum for people from a wide variety of backgrounds to share ideas and create high quality interdisciplinary projects that have a positive impact on society. A major contribution of the festival is the extensive auditions program that has gained prominence as a major regional audition center for admission and scholarships to esteemed foreign music schools; in addition, the high quality level of the festival’s educational programs has made the festival the first event in the world where participants can earn university academic credits for the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston.

For 17 years, the Panama Jazz Festival has continued to offer a rich concert program featuring many of the world’s leading jazz musicians. Featured performers have included The Wayne Shorter Quartet, Herbie Hancock, Chucho Valdés Quartet, John Patitucci, Joe Lovano, Rubén Blades, Randy Weston, Kenny Barron, Esperanza Spalding, Mike Stern, Lizz Wright, Jack DeJohnette, Stanley Jordan, Billy Cobham, Terry Lyne Carrington, Ran Blake, Phil Ranelin and Ellis Marsalis, among others. These musicians not only perform at the festival but they also share their expertise, techniques and life experiences with students, other performers and other music professionals—adding to the rich cultural and academic quality of the Panama Jazz Festival.

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To serve as an educational platform with performances of the highest caliber; to inspire, to educate and to supply the tools and opportunities in the art of music to help provide a better future for individuals and their communities.

To establish Panama as a major center for auditions for admission to and scholarships for important foreign music schools; and to establish the Panama Jazz Festival as the number one event in the world to award academic university credits.

To create and promote work collaboration models as a means of cultural diplomacy.


As the premier event of the Danilo Perez Foundation, the Panama Jazz Festival is an international undertaking, the aim of which is to develop and stimulate musical talents in young people regardless of their socioeconomic situations.

Values we support:

  • Honesty and transparency in our actions
  • Promotion of music culture, art and education
  • Development of respectful citizens of high moral character
  • Fostering the meeting of ideas and creation of interdisciplinary projects

Who we are

Danilo Pérez

Artistic Director

Patricia Zárate de Pérez

Executive Director

Karla Jiménez Comrie

National Production Coordinator

Aleida Duartes

Educational Events Coordinator

Gabriel Fonseca

Technical Production Coordinator

Alejandra Garzon

Music Symposium Coordinator