Miguel Zenon: Esta Plena (2009)

By Published: | 4,974 views
No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Miguel Zenon: Esta Plena
Like a nimble jet aircraft, Miguel Zenón's Esta Plena leaps into flight from its very first notes. The album arrives not long after Awake (Marsalis Music, 2008), Zenón's jazz quartet/string quartet outing of 2008, but it follows more logically on the heels of 2005's Jíbaro (Marsalis Music), a jazz meditation on the rural music of Zenón's native Puerto Rico. Esta Plena, different but related, finds the alto saxophonist melding authentic plena music with the forward-thinking jazz aesthetic he's developed as a New Yorker. The result is adrenaline-fueled and percussion-centric, even if the key to executing this riotously difficult music is Zenón's working quartet with pianist Luis Perdomo
Luis Perdomo
Luis Perdomo
b.1971
piano
, bassist Hans Glawischnig
Hans Glawischnig
Hans Glawischnig
b.1970
bass
and drummer Henry Cole
Henry Cole
Henry Cole

drums
. On vocals, and fulfilling the standard plena percussion roles of requinto, segundo and seguidor, are Héctor "Tito" Matos, Obanilú Allende and Juan Gutiérrez, respectively.

Of the 10 pieces, five are vocal and five are instrumental. (Zenón named each instrumental after a specific neighborhood in Puerto Rico.) The title track, "Despedida" and "¿Que Será de Puerto Rico?" have the irresistible ring of old street songs, but they are Zenón originals - such is the depth of his immersion in the plena idiom. Zenón explains in his notes that the goal was "to keep the basic plena rhythm unaltered: all in 4/4 time and with all the traditional accents." Given this, the compositional detail and variety he achieves is all the more striking. At times the insistently simple meter is clear, as in the solo sections and main vocal themes of "Oyelo" or "Pandero y Pagode" or the opening groove of "Villa Coope." Elsewhere, during parts of "Villa Palmeras" and "Residencial Llorens Torres," the plena beat is blurred beyond recognition as the quartet flexes its muscles. Throughout, there's a natural balance of roughness and romance, plainspoken melody and deftly orchestrated, through-composed form.

Track Listing: Villa Palmeras; Esta Plena; Oyelo; Residencial Llorens Torres; Pandero y Pagode; Calle Calma; Villa Coope; ¿Que Será de Puerto Rico?; Progresso; Despedida.

Personnel: Miguel Zenón: alto saxophone, background vocals; Luis Perdomo: piano; Hans Glawischnig: acoustic bass; Henry Cole: drums; Héctor "Tito" Matos: lead vocals, percussion (requinto); Obanilú Allende: background vocals, percussion (segundo); Juan Gutiérrez: background vocals, percussion (seguidor).

Record Label: Marsalis Music

Style: Modern Jazz


comments powered by Disqus
Sponsor: Summit Records | BUY NOW

Enter it twice.
To the weekly jazz events calendar

Enter the numbers in the graphic
Enter the code in this picture

Log in

One moment, you will be redirected shortly.

or search site with Google