Miguel Zenón News

Grammys: Jazz nominees mix fresh faces with familiar reliables

Publication: Los Angeles Times Blog
Author: Chris Barton
Date: November 30, 2011

Realistically, an Esperanza Spalding-type surprise just doesn’t happen every day. A year removed from jazz barging into the major categories with Spalding’s rewarding best new artist win, Grammy voters opted for a return to normalcy with their jazz nominations announced Wednesday. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on December 1st, 2011 — 10:38am

Zenón's Alma Adentro Receives Grammy Nomination!

We are so proud to announce that Miguel Zenón’s Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook received a Grammy nomination for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album last night! Congrats to Miguel and all of the musicians involved with the album. Full list of Grammy nominees here.

Submitted by Courtney on December 1st, 2011 — 10:57am

Saxophonist Miguel Zenón mines the Puerto Rican songbook

Publication: Los Angeles Times
Author: Chris Barton
Date: November 18, 2011

If there’s any way jazz can be compared to a fairground’s bumper cars, it’s that the excitement is in the collisions, those necessary (if far less violent) meetings between the music and an individual’s history, imagination and culture that create something new. This year jazz has been enjoying a particularly rewarding run of global collisions that have included the Middle Eastern explorations of trumpeter Amir ElSaffar, the Southern Asian influence in recent albums by Rudresh Mahanthappa and Rez Abbasi and fresh twists on Brazilian jazz in records by Anthony Wilson and Rob Mazurek’s Sao Paolo Underground.

An acclaimed saxophonist who has played with a variety of ensembles through the years as well as ongoing work as co-founder of the SFJAZZ Collective, Miguel Zenón has dedicated much of his career as a bandleader to exploring the intersection of jazz and the music of his native Puerto Rico. In 2009 Zenón earned critical raves and two Grammy nominations for “Esta Plena,” an album exploring a percussive side of Afro-Carribean folkloric tradition. For Zenón’s latest turn at musical cross-pollination, this year’s “Alma Adentro” turns its ear toward the Puerto Rican songwriters from Zenón’s childhood. (Zenón and his quartet perform at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica on Saturday.)

I started thinking about the connection between the Great American Songbook and jazz music, how that basically fed the jazz repertoire for so long,” he said, speaking by phone before a performance in Oakland earlier this week. “I started thinking that maybe I could do the same thing and explore the Puerto Rican songbook and bring it into the jazz world, and at the same time introduce people to Puerto Rican composers who’ve meant so much to the development of music and culture there.”

Submitted by Courtney on November 21st, 2011 — 11:18am

Miguel Zenón's unique Latin-jazz fusion

Publication: Sign On San Diego
Author: George Varga
Date: November 15, 2011

A member of the acclaimed SF Jazz Collective and the 2008 recipient of both a Guggenheim Fellowship and a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant,” San Juan-born saxophonist Miguel Zenón is blazing new trails. His rich fusion of jazz and such homegrown Puerto Rican styles as jibaro, plena and bomba is as ingenious as it infectious. Stepped in all of these musical traditions, he is able to dig deeper to make new connections without diluting any of the styles from which he draws. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on November 16th, 2011 — 10:56am

Miguel Zenón: Digging His Roots

Publication: JazzTimes
Author: Lee Mergner

During the 2011 Newport Jazz Festival, JazzTimes set up a make-shift video production studio backstage inside the old barracks of Fort Adams. During two afternoons in August, a succession of artists—including Hiromi, Esperanza Spalding, Ambrose Akinmusire, Mostly Other People Do the Killing, Miguel Zenón, Steve Coleman and many others—came in to talk about the festival, jazz education and their own projects. We will be posting these interviews at jazztimes.com over the next few months. You can also see more of these video inteviews at the JazzTimes YouTube channel.

Since receiving a prestigious MacArthur fellowship (also known as the “genius grant”) in 2008, Miguel Zenón has been exploring his own musical roots and influences by delving into the traditional songs and forms of his native Puerto Rico. However, as he explained in this interview at the 2011 Newport Jazz Festival, he was already headed in that direction before given the support from the MacArthur grant. At his performance in Newport, Zenón featured the music from his latest album, Alma Adentro (Marsalis Music), featuring a large ensemble with arrangements by Guillermo Klein.

Backstage after the show, Zenón talked about that project and the impact the grant had on his own development as a composer and bandleader. He also discussed his early music education in Puerto Rico, as well as his schooling at Berklee and the Manhattan School.

Visit JazzTimes.com to watch Miguel’s interview. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on November 14th, 2011 — 03:02pm