Getting to know Luis Perdomo

I took in another “Meet the Artist” session on Monday afternoon. This time was Venezuelan pianist Luis Perdomo. Perdomo and his band were fresh off a European tour and were looking forward to playing in Burlington again.

Perdomo had visited Burlington on vacation with a friend quite some time ago and had enjoyed the area. For a musician who had grown up in Venezuela, just getting to experience another area must have been very new and interesting.

He talked about his childhood and how his life as a musician took off. He had his first gig at the age of 12. He listened to any music he could get his hands on. His piano teacher would lend him several LP’s (remember, those big black CD things that played on record players? You do remember record players, right?) every week. One of the first was a Cecil Taylor record. He would blare it from his house while his friends were listening to more popular Venezuelan music. Taylor’s music was the catalyst for his interest in becoming at Jazz musician. At the age of 13, he decided that he wanted to be a professional musician.

While studying back in Venezuela, his teacher stressed the importance of studying classical music in addition to Jazz and other popular musical genres. He would study Bach and Beethoven in addition to Cecil Taylor and other prominent Jazz pianists.

After finishing high school, he applied to three colleges and got into one for Biology but decided not to attend. Instead, he tried to get local gigs playing music. Finally he got a gig playing in the most popular Jazz club in Caracas. The band played Jazz from 9pm to 3:30am. The next youngest musician in the band was 38 years old. Perdomo held the gig for four years.

In May of 1989, he made a trip to New York City with some friends, having wanted to see the place where all of the music he was listening too came from. During the trip, he spent all of his money on CD’s and Yankee’s tickets.

He just happened to be in New York when the Manhattan School of Music was holding auditions for the following year and decided to take an audition on a whim. He played a Jazz standard and did some sight reading (reading unprepared music) and that was it. After returning home, he was informed that he had been accepted and offered a sizable scholarship to attend the prestigious school.

While at school, he began to have a greater understanding for the music he had been playing for years. He played in a band with the notable vibraphone player Steffon Harris. Harris got him a lot of his first gigs in New York. Through him, Perdomo met Claudio Acuna and Jason Lindner. When Lindner couldn’t make a gig, Perdomo subbed for him. Soon he was playing with the great Jazz bassist John Pattitucci.

He soon received a call from Ravi Coltrane, son of the great John Coltrane. He played with Ravi for a period of time and soon began playing with alto sax player Miguel Zenon. Though he had his reservations about playing with the Puertro Rican musician, thinking that “he must not play ‘real Jazz,'” he was quite impressed.

Sadly, I was not able to attend the concert on Monday evening but I certainly plan to check out Perdomo’s music. I can tell just from hearing him talk about his experiences and decisions throughout his career that he certainly has something to say musically.

Looking forward to catching some music around town this afternoon, despite the inclement weather. And of course, Will Bernard and his band (Stanton Moore and Robert Walters among them) will be at Nectar’s tonight for a show that is not to be missed.

Meet the Artist with Luis Perdomo | Flynn Space 6.8.09

Meet the Artist with Luis Perdomo | Flynn Space 6.8.09

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