Daniel Villarreal – the beloved Panamá-born, Chicago-based percussionist known for his work with Dos Santos, Rudy De Anda, The Los Sundowns and more – shares “Patria,” the latest single from his debut album, Panamá 77, out May 20th on International Anthem. “Patria,” which translates to “motherland,” is a classic song in Panamá and was originated by organist and composer Avelino Muñoz, a Panamanian music legend. Villarreal’s version of it is a heartfelt tribute to Muñoz, who was a deeply important figure and influence to Villarreal and his father Daniel Villarreal De León (also an accomplished organist). The junior Daniel describes the song “as a pulsing hypnotic waltz like a romantic dream of love; all doubly enhanced by the beautiful tones of the organ, which evoke the sounds of pushing a boat through the Panamá Canal against the brush.”
Recorded in Chicago at Jamdek Recording studio by Doug Malone, “Patria” features Chicago musicians who are also part of Villarreal’s live band: Cole DeGenova on keys, Nathan Karagianis (Dos Santos) on guitar, and Gordon Walters on bass.
“Patria” comes today via an animated video created by video artist Eddie Bragin, a childhood friend of Villarreal’s from Panamá. On the video and his relationship with Villarreal, Bragin says, “Every segment was an exploration of rhythm and melody, a joy to animate it to the music and to keep the shapes inhabiting the otherworldly environment that it suggests. This song is Daniel’s tribute to a Panamanian artist that poured out of our radios and televisions and formed part of the soundtrack of our childhood. Listening to the familiar ghostly melody as an adult set me on an emotional voyage with a new sense of wonder and appreciation.”
On July 8 at Chicago’s Thalia Hall, Daniel will celebrate Panamá 77 with his International Anthem labelmates Anteloper (jaimie branch) and Jeremiah Chiu & Marta Sofia Honer. Tickets for this triple album release show are available now.
Villarreal is known in Chicago for his big style and magnetic personality, but to musicians around town, his talents as a malleable and powerful drummer, with a deep pocket in many styles and sounds, are paramount. Villarreal is drummer and co-leader for the bands Dos Santos, Valebol, The Los Sundowns and Ida y Vuelta; also playing occasionally with Wild Belle and Rudy De Anda. Villarreal’s mastering of many forms of folkloric Latin music and jazz is bolstered by a gritty punk rock foundation – his bands NOHAYDIA and 2 Huevos 1 Camino toured Central America for years before he came to the States two decades ago.
Villarreal’s debut album Panamá 77, named for his home country and birth year, is a vibrant and verdant suite of multi-textural, jazz-laced psychedelic instrumental folk-funk that fuses his past and present. “This album is an affirmation of both my origin story and who I’m today,” explains Villarreal. “I see my life and my music as a collaboration of improvisation and intention all in the spirit of community and joy.” The album features contributions from bassist Anna Butterss, guitarist Jeff Parker, Elliot Bergman (Wild Belle), Bardo Martinez (Chicano Batman), Karagianis, violist Marta Sofia Honer, DeGenova, and trumpeter Aquiles Navarro.