6

Miguel Zenon & The Rhythm Collective: Oye!!! Live In Puerto Rico

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
Puerto Rican pride oozes from every album under alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón's name. Most recently, he explored plena music in a jazz context on the winning Esta Plena (Marsalis Music, 2009), and put a new spin on songs from the Puerto Rican Songbook with Alma Adentro (Marsalis Music, 2011). While those projects differ greatly, with rough-and-tumble antics on the former and an air of refinement on the latter, they're both built on sturdy conceptual platforms that are supported by Puerto Rican pillars. Oye!!! Live In Puerto Rico is another date that points toward Zenón's place of origin, but it stands apart from the rest because of its dressed-down nature. Zenón doesn't try to take on the mantle of musicologist/aural mixologist; he simply plays, though his playing is never simple.

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 during—or inspired by—that 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 songs—the 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.

Title: Oye!!! Live In Puerto Rico | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Self Produced


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Another North CD/LP/Track Review Another North
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Gledalec CD/LP/Track Review Gledalec
by John Sharpe
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Flux Reflux CD/LP/Track Review Flux Reflux
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Christmas With Champian CD/LP/Track Review Christmas With Champian
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Harmony of Difference CD/LP/Track Review Harmony of Difference
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 18, 2017
Read No Answer CD/LP/Track Review No Answer
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 18, 2017
Read "Steelonious" CD/LP/Track Review Steelonious
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: December 6, 2016
Read "Autumn Tales" CD/LP/Track Review Autumn Tales
by Chris Mosey
Published: June 20, 2017
Read "Better By Far" CD/LP/Track Review Better By Far
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 17, 2017
Read "Up and Coming" CD/LP/Track Review Up and Coming
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 30, 2017
Read "No Secrets No Lies" CD/LP/Track Review No Secrets No Lies
by Geannine Reid
Published: July 22, 2017
Read "Dirt In The Ground" CD/LP/Track Review Dirt In The Ground
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 13, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.