Miguel Zenón alto sax
Luis Perdomo piano
Jorge Roeder bass
Henry Cole drums
Miguel Zenón has become one of jazz’s most original thinkers. Today, at the age of 37, he’s one of the best-known alto saxophonists in jazz. The quartet he leads has been working together for more than ten years, building its ensemble coherence on stages all over the world. But Zenón’s more than a great musician and bandleader.
One of only a handful of jazz musicians to be chosen for the coveted MacArthur fellowships (in 2008), he’s at the forefront of a new movement that in recent years has brought the composer to a new prominence in jazz. But beyond his facility at writing and playing music, there is a great intellectual subject at the center ofMiguel Zenón’s artistic world: the complexity of Puerto Rican culture.
Beginning with his third album as a leader, Jíbaro (2005), and continuing with Esta Plena (2009)and Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook (2011)(both Grammy-nominated), and Oye!!! Live In Puerto Rico
(2013), Miguel Zenón has created a series of thoughtfully framed works that interpret different facets of Puerto Rican culture. Zenón’s Puerto Rico is a bit like Gabriel García Márquez’s Colombiaor Gilberto Gil’s Brazil: the highly focused center of an imaginative universe that looks to the world while being rooted at home. It serves a springboard for his personal style: no one else’s Puerto Rico –and no one else’s jazz –sounds like Miguel Zenón’s.
Identities Are Changeable, Zenón’s powerful new composition, is a song cycle forlarge ensemble, with his longtime quartet (Luis Perdomo, piano; Hans Glawischnig, bass; Henry Cole, drums) at the center, incorporating recorded voices from a series of interviews conducted by Zenón. Commissioned as a multimedia work by Montclair State University’s Peak Performances series, it has a multi-media element with audio and video footage from the interviews, complemented by a video installation created by artist David Dempewolf. It’s been performed at such prestigious venues as the New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall in Boston, The SFJAZZ Center in San Francisco, and Zankel Hall in the Carnegie Hall complex in New York City.