Miguel Zenón Quartet
Wednesday, November 12th, 8 p.m.| Kate Buchanan Room, HSU
"The de facto spokesman for the jazz possibilities inherent in the musical DNA of Puerto Rico."
—Dan Bilawsky, All About Jazz
"One of the best alto saxophone players in the world...technically astounding yet immediately gratifying."
—Patrick Jarenwattananon, NPR Music
When Miguel Zenón brought his sizzling ensemble to Arcata in 2008, he was already a rapidly rising star with four albums to his credit. A few months later his outsized talent was recognized with both a Guggenheim and a MacArthur Fellowship—commonly known as the “genius” grant. Since then, he’s continued to blaze new paths merging jazz and Puerto Rican pop and folk forms, most recently with a large ensemble suite entitled “Identities Are Changeable,” a groundbreaking multimedia project that explores Puerto Rican identity in diaspora.
A native of San Juan, Zenón studied at the Escuela Libre de Musica, then honed his jazz skills at the Berklee School of Music and the Manhattan School of Music. His earliest professional experience was with Boston’s famed Either/Orchestra, and he’s worked with many other large groups besides, including the Mingus Big Band, the Village Vanguard Orchestra, Guillermo Klein y Los Guachos, and Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra. Zenón is also a founding member of the groundbreaking SFJazz Collective (he’s now its most senior member, in fact), and in 2012 he served as one of the resident artistic director for the first two seasons of the SFJazz Center, along with Bill Frisell, Jason Moran, Regina Carter and John Santos.
David Sánchez’s sextet of the early 2000s was the first outlet for Zenón’s considerable gifts as a composer. (His extensive sideman credits also include key roles on new albums by drummer Jeff Ballard and pianist Kenny Werner.) But it’s his nine albums a leader that document his deepening connection to the musics of his homeland and his continual evolution as a conceptualist and producer. In 2002, the New York Times chose Looking Forward, his debut, as its independent jazz record of the year. Ceremonial followed in 2004, the same year that saw the first of Zenón’s three consecutive wins in the Downbeat Critics Poll Rising Star Alto Sax category. Jibaro, a tribute to the “Musica Jibara” of Puerto Rico, came next, followed by Awake, Esta Plena, Alma Adentro, and Rayuela (co-led with pianist Laurent Coq, and inspired by the writing of Julio Cortázar).
His latest and most ambitious album, Identities are Changeable, features Zenón’s longtime quartet plus five saxes, four trumpets and three trombones, and incorporates recorded voices from a series of interviews centered on the question, “What does it mean to be Puerto Rican in 21st-century New York City?” Sculptor and visual artist David Dempewolf created an accompanying video installation, and the work has been performed at such venues as the New England Conservatory in Boston, the SFJazz Center in San Francisco, and Zankel Hall in the Carnegie Hall complex in New York City.The other members of Zenón’s group—pianist Luis Perdomo, bassist Hans Glawischnig, and drummer Eric Doob—are themselves notable figures at the crossroads of Latin and contemporary jazz. Both Perdomo and Glawischnig have released several critically acclaimed recordings of their own, and last year Doob (who is filling in for regular drummer Henry Cole) received a Grammy® nomination for his playing on pianist Manuel Valera’s album New Cuban Express.
Tickets ($15 General Admission, $10 Students & Seniors) are available here at our website and at People's Records, Wildwood Music, Wildberries, and The Works.
Zenón's quartet will also present a pre-show public workshop at 12:00 noon on Wednesday, November 12th in Music "A" Room 131 on the HSU campus (across the walkway from Fulkerson Recital Hall). People of all levels of experience are welcome to attend, and admission is FREE.
Words & Pixels:
Video (see also at left):
Audio (see also at left):
Additional support for this show comes from Holly Yashi, KHSU, Libation Wine Shop and Wine Bar, Marimba One, Sewell Gallery of Fine Art, Tomo Japanese Restaurant, and Zwerdling Bragg Mainzer & Firpo LLP.