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.
I love jazz because it is both challenging and exhilarating, and the endeavor of improvisation is the highest form of art.
I met so many great musicians--including my two earliest heroes, Maynard Ferguson and Dizzy Gillespie--by attending concerts
and being willing to treat them with the respect they deserve.
The best show I ever attended was the Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman Song X concert at Cornell University.
The first jazz record I bought was an RCA compilation by Dizzy Gillespie.
My advice to new listeners is to not be afraid to listen to something because you're not familiar with the artists or the band or
the genre or anything - this is music that is best experienced through discovery.