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Miguel Zenon

Saxophonist and composer Miguel Zenón is one of a select group of jazz musicians who have successfully navigated the often contradictory poles of innovation and tradition. A multi-Grammy nominee, he has developed a unique voice as a composer and conceptualist, concentrating his efforts on perfecting a fine mix between Latin American folk music and jazz. In addition to his numerous dates as a bandleader, Zenón has worked as a sideman with Charlie Haden, David Sánchez, Ray Barretto, the Mingus Big Band, Michele Rosewoman, Luis Perdomo, Bobby Hutcherson, Fred Hersch, Kenny Werner, Steve Coleman, and Hans Glawischnig, and has lectured and taught master classes all over the globe.

A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Zenón dug Coltrane in high school but didn't get serious about a career in jazz until attending the Berklee School of Music. While at Berklee, he hooked up with drummer Bob Moses, who invited him to play with the Either/Orchestra, giving the saxophonist his first professional experience. Awards and grants lead to Zenón pursuing and earning a Masters in Saxophone Performance in 2001 from the Manhattan School of Music in New York City.

Looking Forward, Zenón's debut album as a leader, appeared in 2002. it fused jazz, Latin, and classical influences, and earned positive reviews at home and abroad. In 2003, he and his Rhythm Collective quartet were selected by the Kennedy Center's Jazz ambassador program to teach and perform in West Africa. That same year, he recorded his sophomore effort, Ceremonial, which was produced by Branford Marsalis and released on the Marsalis Music label in early 2004. Also in 2004, he recorded as a founding member of the SF Jazz Collective. In 2005, he and Brian Lynch co-headlined a date entitled 24/7, and later in the year released the groundbreaking Jibaro, a jazz tribute to "la música jíbara" -- a string-based folkloric music popular in the Puerto Rican countryside, that ended up on many critics' year-end lists.

Throughout 2006 and 2007, Zenón kept busy. He recorded with the SF Jazz Collective and was part of its world tour, and he played on pianist Edsel Gomez's debut offering, Cubist Music. The saxophonist had a momentous 2008. His Awake album was issued by Marsalis Music to widespread critical acclaim, and he received a MacArthur Foundation Award aka the "genius" grant" -- and a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. His Esta Plena album appeared in 2009.

In 2011, Alma Adentro was released and nominated for a Grammy. Zenón founded Caravana Cultural that year, a program that organizes free-of-charge jazz concerts in rural areas of Puerto Rico. In 2012, Rayuela, his debut for the Sunnyside label, was released. In 2013, Zenón issued the first offering from his own Miel Music label: Oye! Live in Puerto Rico, which documented his reunion with the Rhythm Collective band. ~ David Jeffries & Thom Jurek, Rovi
full bio

Comments

Mr Zenon kicks a** !!!! His band is way beyond tight !! Give my man some play ya'll X
Miguel is my fave alto player right now - wicked technique and precision, but always in the service of the music, and a superb composer. Saw his video discussing Esta Plena and he's obviously a really nice, humble person to boot!
Played with Chick Corea at Heineken Jazz Fest 2010. Excellent!!! !
I seen this kid at the heineken jazz festival in Puerto Rico many years ago with the berkley college professers.H e was only a kid and was already a fenomenal player.
nojacket
Won a Genius Award, 2009, for his work as an artist in creating a new sound that combines Latin, Caribbean and other jazzy airy sounds
Totally agree with you jaredleaderm , he has an original sound and draws on a wide range of influences. I know Miguel and have spoken to him about his different musical tastes; he is into Radiohead and other artists that are constantly trying to push the boundaries and blur the typical marketing labels that are bestowed upon them. He is an awesome player who has already made a lot of great music and will for many years to come; especially recording for Brandford's label.
jaredleaderm a n
In my opinion, one of the true original Alto players of today!

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