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Alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón explores the country music of Puerto Rico on Jibaro, an album of Latin jazz originals. By applying these innate cultural ideas in a jazz context, Zenón's quartet creates an exciting program that's filled with melodic fragrance and traditional rhythmic charm. The leader was able to create the album's ten compositions through the support of New York's State Council of the Arts' Individual Artists Program.
The leader was born and raised in the Santurce section of San Juan, Puerto Rico. The country's traditional music was all around him. Even after discovering jazz and studying at the Berklee College of Music in Boston and the Manhattan School of Music in New York, Zenón continued to represent the traditional music that surrounded him during his formative years. He fuses the worlds of Latin music and jazz equally, expressing traditional themes alongside rhythmically driven actions.
"Chorreao" and "Punto Cubano" contain themes that stem directly from the country's earliest roots. Melodies handed down from generations past, normally sung with heartfelt emotion, take on a hard-driving character propelled by Zenón and his powerful Latin jazz quartet. "Jibaro" introduces a lounge piano quality to the affair as the saxophonist soars on passionate wings that convey a deep sense of pride. The music drives with authority. "Entramada" stretches out with a large, romantic parade of flowers. Beauty makes itself apparent in mood and interpretation. Zenón's alto saxophone carries him higher and higher as he climbs the music's emotional ladder to the stars. He's provided an exotic adventure for jazz lovers on Jibaro, while exhibiting the traditional nature of the music intelligently.
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.