Miguel Zenon: Esta Plena (2009)
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