Miguel Zenon & The Rhythm Collective: Oye!!! Live In Puerto Rico (2013)
Zenón and the Rhythm Collective first came together for a U.S. State Department tour of West Africa in 2003, and all of the music that appears on this album was conceived duringor inspired bythat experience. The edgy and the artful come together in covers and originals that don't lack for rhythmic vivacity, yet don't feel hemmed in by the grooves. The music often gives off a loose-and-open-ended feeling, but it also sizzles with percussive heat. Drummer Tony Escapa and percussionist Reynaldo de Jesus burn with the fire of a thousand suns at times, but balance their frenetic energy with a more spacious outlook. Zenón and electric bassist Aldemar Valentin share in their ability to blur lines, delivering melodic rhythms and rhythmic melodies throughout.
The album opens with the Santana-swiped, Tito Puente-penned "Oye Como Va." Zenón and crew don't necessarily follow either artist's footsteps as they work their way through the song. Starts and stops, stutters, subtle episodes, and scorching segments all surface during this song; Zenón even paints with snake charmer savoir-faire in several places. "El Necio" follows, as Zenón proves the point that suave and smooth are two very different things; his horn dances with supreme style and brilliance as the grooves build and morph around him. Themes of uncertainty and openness come to the fore on the Paul Motian-inspired "Hypnotized," while Afrobeat allure underlines "JOS Nigeria." The headiest of songsthe bubbling and bold "Double Edge"is held off until the very end.
Those accustomed to the sound of Zenón's studio-made records might need to acclimate to the more raw-and-rough appearance of Oye!!! Live In Puerto Rico; it isn't mixed as cleanly as his other records, but the music more than makes up for that. These songs were recorded live in 2011, during a two-night stand at a now-defunct performance space in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, and the audiences at those shows were treated to something very special; now, everybody can get a taste of what they heard.
Track Listing: Oye!!! (Intro); Oye Como Va; El Necio; Hypnotized; JOS Nigeria; Double Edge; The Edge (Outro).
Personnel: Miguel Zenon: alto saxophone; Tony Escapa: drums; Aldemar Valentin: electric bass; Reynaldo De Jesus: percussion.
Record Label: Self Produced