miguel zenon

Miguel Zenón: What it means to be Nuyorican

Publication: Star-Ledger
Author: Tad Hendrickson
Date: February 3, 2012

Alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón’s six albums balance jazz and Puerto Rican folk traditions with modern innovation in imaginative ways that have been universally acclaimed. He was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 2008, and “Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook” (2011) earned him his most recent Grammy nomination.

This Saturday, he marks another milestone with the world premiere of “Puerto Rico Nació en Mi: Tales from the Diaspora” at Montclair State University. Whereas his last album was a large ensemble tribute to five great Puerto Rican composers, the Puerto Rico-born, New York-based Zenón uses another large ensemble to explore how Puerto Ricans and their children define themselves.

“The project was born out of the idea of digging deeper into the concept of Puerto Ricans (coming) to New York City; some people call them Nuyoricans,” says Zenón, 35, who released his first album as a leader in 2002. “It started with me reading about it in a couple of books and personal experiences I’ve had in New York. The idea was to see how they felt about their identity, whether they felt like Puerto Ricans or like a New Yorker.”

Zenón culled specific themes from the video and audio clips he recorded during interviews, and these will be part of the multifaceted performance thanks to video artist David Dempewolf, who also will add his impressionistic imagery. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on February 3rd, 2012 — 12:52pm

Editor’s Picks – Best CDs of 2011

Publication: Latin Jazz Network
Date: February 2, 2012
Author: Danilo Navas

Miguel Zenón – Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook (Marsalis Music – USA)

Being a recipient of the coveted MacArthur Fellowship has given Miguel Zenón the freedom to pursue great projects. Alma Adentro is an extraordinary exploration of the Puerto Rican Songbook. The true soul of a nation reflected in its musical creations. The result has invaluable quality. Variations on a theme that are rooted in the tradition, elevating the standards to new musical heights.

To see Danilo’s other picks for the best of 2011, please visit the Latin Jazz Network website. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on February 2nd, 2012 — 11:38am

Dan Bilawsky's Best Releases of 2011

Publication: All About Jazz
Author: Dan Bilawsky
Date: December 18, 2011

Another year is in the books, but the music created and/or released during these twelve months is still around, continuing to serve as a reminder of jazz’s majesty. While some continue to complain that jazz is stagnant or at death’s door, the finest albums released in 2011 say otherwise. I had the distinct pleasure of reviewing approximately 170 recordings released in this calendar year, and the following list represents the best of the bunch.

Click here to see Dan’s picks, including Miguel Zenón’s Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook! Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on December 19th, 2011 — 10:15am

Nate Chinen's Favorite Releases of 2011: Sounds That Come From in the Head and on the Street

Publication: New York Times
Author: Nate Chinen
Date: December 15, 2011

MIGUEL ZENÓN “Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook” (Marsalis Music) The dragonfly speed and lightness of Mr. Zenón’s alto saxophone playing is reason enough to love this meditation on the music of his homeland. So too is his liberal approach to the repertory, mostly classic boleros and ballads, furnished with woodwind orchestrations by Guillermo Klein.

To read the rest of Chinen’s picks, please visit the original article. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on December 16th, 2011 — 10:51am

It’s the most jazz-list-y time of the year

Publication: Ottawa Citizen Jazzblog
Author: Peter Hum
Date: December 12, 2011

The jazz punditocracy has been weighing in on top jazz CDs of 2011:

The list from Patrick Jarenwattananon at NPR’s A Blog Supreme skews to the younger end of the jazz talent spectrum. Miguel Zenón (Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook) and Gretchen Parlato (The Lost and Found) get nods, for example, for their 2011 CDs, while Sonny Rollins does not, for example. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on December 13th, 2011 — 11:35am

Up for a Grammy award, Arturo O'Farrill still fights for eliminated Latin jazz category

Publication: New York Daily News
Author: Monika Fabian
Date: December 7, 2011

An outspoken critic of the Grammys’ controversial decision this year to eliminate 30 awards categories was graced with a nomination last week by the host organization, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS).

“I’m extremely proud,” said bandleader and pianist Arturo O’Farrill, whose album “40 Acres and a Burro” has a bid for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album.

However, he still opposes the elimination of the Best Latin Jazz Album category, calling it “horrific.”

“To compete with big, big, big names is very healthy, but it doesn’t bode well for us [Latin jazz musicians],” said O’Farrill, winner of the 2008 Best Latin Jazz Album award and a four-time nominee.

“A lot of what happens is brand awareness,” he added. “It would be an amazing vindication of our artistic integrity and the academy’s position of it leveling the playing field if any of the Latinos had a real shot at winning.”

Also competing for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album — the only category in which Hispanic artists were nominated that did not involve Latino/Mexican/World Music — is Puerto Rican saxophonist Miguel Zenón, who saw in the academy’s restructuring a chance for Latin artists to gain more widespread jazz cred. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on December 8th, 2011 — 11:14am

NPR Music's 50 Favorite Albums Of 2011: Complete List

Publication: NPR.org
Date: December 5, 2011

The title of the article says it all- Miguel Zenón’s Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook is listed as one of NPR’s 50 Favorite Albums of 2011. Check out the full list here.

Submitted by Courtney on December 6th, 2011 — 09:16am

Miguel Zenón: Jazz player on the rise

Publication: San Jose Mercury News
Author: Andrew Gilbert
Date: November 10, 2011

Miguel Zenón is a musician with a mission.

Over the past six years, the Puerto Rican alto saxophonist has waged a fierce, single-minded campaign to make the jazz world aware of the island’s musical riches. On two previous releases, 2005’s “Jibaro” and 2009’s “Esta Plena,” Zenón combined his rigorous, mathematically structured post-bop vocabulary with folkloric Afro-Puerto Rican styles.

In a shift toward soaring lyricism, his latest album, “Alma Adentro” (Marsalis Music), is a ravishing orchestral session interpreting standards by five beloved Puerto Rican songwriters: Bobby Capó, Tite Curet Alonso, Pedro Flores, Rafael Hernández and Sylvia Rexach. Read more »

Interview with Branford Marsalis: Fearless lieder

Publication: Capital Bop
Author: Giovanni Russonello
Date: October 11, 2011

Branford Marsalis conveys his thoughts in conversation much as he does as a saxophonist. New ideas emerge with steady self-assurance, boldly and unceasingly. When he pauses he does it for emphasis – not because he has lost his train of thought or needs to reorient himself. If the tabloids could be bothered to expound on the scandals of the jazz world, Marsalis might be their go-to guy for headline-grabbing quotes. He’s called avant-garde legend Cecil Taylor’s demands on his audience “self-indulgent bullshit;” opined that “students today are completely full of shit,” overly coddled and under-criticized; and recently said of contemporary jazz, “There’s so little of it that’s actually good that when it’s good, it shocks me.” Marsalis’ hard-nosed perspective comes from decades spent as one of the most respected jazz saxophonists around, but it’s colored by his 10 years in the soap opera of American popular culture, first as a star in Sting’s touring band, then as musical director of the Tonight Show.

For more than 15 years now, Marsalis has focused once again on jazz, releasing a bevy of stellar post-bop albums and founding his own label, Marsalis Music. His latest record, Songs of Mirth and Melancholy, a duet with pianist and longtime accomplice Joey Calderazzo, explores the alternately disconsolate and ecstatic world of German classical folk music, or lieder. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on October 12th, 2011 — 11:49am

Miguel Zenón – Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook (2011)

Publication:   Exystence
Date: September 13, 2011

 When so-called “Latin jazz” comes up in conversation, music or musicians connected to Cuba or Brazil are usually the topic of conversation. While it’s true that Afro-Cuban stylings, bossa nova beats and sizzling samba numbers seem to dominate in this umbrella category, they’re only the tip of the iceberg that is the music of Latin America. Thankfully, some important jazz musicians are helping to broaden the rest of the world’s view on what Latin America has to offer. Pianist Danilo Perez has connected the dots between music from his native Panama and jazz, and alto saxophone star Miguel Zenón is doing the same thing for Puerto Rico. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on September 27th, 2011 — 10:10am