Miguel Zenon: Sonero: The Music of Ismael Rivera

Mark Corroto By

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Miguel Zenon: Sonero: The Music of Ismael Rivera
It is not possible to listen to Sonero: The Music of Ismael Rivera by alto saxophonist Miguel Zenon without triggering thoughts of another altoist, Charlie Parker. Like Parker, Zenón has that quicksilver processing of thought and expression, but more relevant is that both artists can render any style of music into the jazz idiom. Where Parker dealt with Latin music in a macro sense, Zenón gets down to a micro level. It's only natural for the San Juan born, Guggenheim and MacArthur Foundation fellowship winner. He has featured the music of Puerto Rico in multiple projects and recordings. His previous release Yo Soy La Tradición (Miel Music, 2018) was quasi-classical jazz suite honoring the folk traditions of Puerto Rico's music, religion and culture, written for string quartet and saxophone.

Sonero, dedicated to the legendary Puerto Rican singer Ismael Rivera, also conjures Charlie Parker in that Rivera was his vocal counterpart in the world of improvisatory salsa. His singing revolutionized folk music with a similar complexity and degree of innovation. This recording is the genius intersection of both men as illuminated by Zenón's quartet, a working band for fifteen years and four previous albums.

Highlights are numerous. "Quítate de La Vía, Perico," a classic from 1961, imitates the acceleration of a train, first with Zenón's alto rushing ahead, then Luis Perdomo's piano and Henry Cole's drums. That stimulus gives way to the elegance of "Las Tumbas" and the rhythmic call-and-response of "El Negro Bembón." Elsewhere, the quartet dares you to sit still with pieces like "Traigo Salsa" and "Colobó." Where Charlie Parker once took simple jazz melodies and wove intricate complexities, Zenón doubles down on that concept by showcasing the same innovations Ismael Rivera instilled in Latin-American music

Track Listing

Intro/Maelo A Capella; Quítate de La Vía, Perico; Las Tumbas; El Negro Bembón; La Gata Montesa; Traigo Salsa; Las Caras Lindas; Hola; Colobó; Si Te Contara; El Nazareno.


Miguel Zenón: alto saxophone; Luis Perdomo: piano; Hans Glawischnig: bass; Henry Cole: drums.

Album information

Title: Sonero: The Music of Ismael Rivera | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Miel Music

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