Alto saxophonist Miguel Zenon has made a career out of exploring his Puerto Rican roots, with albums like Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook (Marsalis Music, 2011), Tipico (Miel Music, 2017) and Yo Soy La Tradicion (Miel Music, 2018). With Musica De Las Americas he broadens his vision to celebrate the history of the American continents, north and south, as well as the multiplicity of America's Atlantic Ocean islands, to delve into the history of this expanse of landsbefore and after the European invasionwith his energetic Latin jazz sound.
The recording features Zenon's long standing quartet featuring pianist Luis Perdomo, bassist Hans Glawischnig and drummer Henry Cole, a distinctive, effervescent music bolstered here by several added percussionists, including the quintet Los Pleneros De La Cresta.
The themes are the pre-Columbian indigenous people, the post Columbian oppression and exploitation and the rapaciousness of the Europeans, the seafaring cultures of the Caribbean and the concept of "America" not as a countryas in "The United States of America"but, more historically correctly, America as a continent.
This is a huge undertaking. Zenon could have filled ten albums with his music on the theme, following his ideas concerning the Mayans, the Aztecs and the Inca and the cruelty of the conquest. So what we end up with is a distillation full of wonder at what might have been had the arrival of the Spanish been averted (though it may have been inevitable, a migratory coriolis effect in play), or more likely delayed; music full of a sense of joy at the resilience of the indigenous peoples, of the joys of dance, of outrage concerning the ravages of disease and conquest during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. And yet initially decimated, the people and their music survived, and eventually thrived. And Zenon celebrates this with gusto, doing his part make right what the historians got wrong with their Eurocentric take on the migration to the Americas .
For their part, Zenon and his musical partners have the DNA/spirit of Charlie Parker in their blood. Open a vein and the indigenous, Spanish and African souls flow freely. Zenon's alto sax tone is similar to Parker'ssharp-edged, with a sweet and sour dynamic, spewing intricate melodies. His quartet has evolved to a peak of perfect interplay and cohesive elocution, and the additional percussionists and the low-in-the-mix vocals on two tracks add an element of exaltation. This is Miguel Zenon's finest recording to date.
Tainos Y Caribes; Navegando (Las Estrella Nos Guian); Opresion Y Revolucion; Imperios; Venas
Abiertas; Bambula; America, El Coninente; Antillano.
Los Pleneros De La Cresta: Emil Martinez, Edwin "Wechin" Aviles, Joshua Ocasio, Jayluix
Ocasio: percussion, vocals (2). Paoli mejias: percussion (3); Victor Emanuelli: percussion (6);
Daniel Diaz: congoa (8).
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