Miguel Zenón Vision of Jazz and Latin America to Be Presented at Art Of Jazz Series

Miguel Zenón To Bring Unique Sounds Of Latin America To Art of Jazz Series Sunday, March 12th at 3 pm at Kleinhans Music Hall – Mary Seton Room

The cerebral, fiery, and lyrical alto saxophonist and composer Miguel Zenón wouldn’t describe what he does as “Latin jazz.” But that doesn’t mean he’s somehow disconnected from his roots — it’s the opposite.

In a recent interview with the Grammy, Zenón stated, “I’m very connected to what I am and where I come from. I try to represent that in what I do physically as a person,…it’s a big part of my music — being from Latin America, being from Puerto Rico.”

Zenón’s work has long been characterized as straddling the traditions of American jazz and Latin American idioms, and those of tradition and innovation — and these tendencies were partly initiated when he arrived at Berklee School of Music in Boston.

“My main thing was I just wanted to play like Charlie Parker and Coltrane and Cannonball,” he told The New York Times in 2021. “But I quickly understood that I really didn’t know my music, the music of Puerto Rico. If I wanted to play something slow, instead of playing standards from the Great American Songbook, I’d rather go into my world, you know?”

This rapprochement between stateside jazz and the music of his home country has led to an eclectic and rewarding discography — which features some of the most dynamic and head-turning alto playings on the New York jazz scene.

These include 2011’s ethnomusicological Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook and 2021’s El Arte del Bolero, an intimate, jazzy take on boleros with his longtime musical partner, pianist Luis Perdomo. He’s also recorded album-length tributes to Ornette Coleman and Puerto Rican singer and composer Ismael Rivera.

And all of these big swings feel earned, as Zenón is something of a lifelong student — and all you need to do to behold the fruits of his explorations is pick up one of his records or check him out live.

“I do the research,” Zenón says. “I try to delve into the information, be as well-versed as possible and have as much information to deal with as possible. And then, I find common threads, common elements, and things that work well together.”

His latest copious in-depth research led to the Grammy-Nominated album Música de Las Américas (Miel Music, 2022). “This music is inspired by the history of the American continent: not only before European colonization but also by what’s happened since—cause and effect,” says Miguel Zenón.

For tickets to this special Art of Jazz Series Presentation at Kleinhans Music Hall – Mary Seton Room, please go to this link soon before it sells out:

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