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Miguel Zenon: Tipico

James Nadal By

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The vintage cover photograph on Tipico, of Puerto Rican musicians, might lead one to believe that this is a continuance of alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón's jazz adaptations revolving around his heritage and homeland. But this is not the case. On this release, he hones in on his bandmates, and the music is centered on what each individual member contributes to the ensemble, and overall sound.

His quartet for over a decade now is comprised of pianist Luis Perdomo, bassist Hans Glawischnig, and Henry Cole on drums. In an age where groups hardly stick together, this in itself is a remarkable achievement, and defines the bands exceptional cohesiveness. When not recording or touring, Zenón has been teaching at New England Conservatory, and "Academia," was inspired by his advanced students who take him to task in musical challenges.

Argentine pianist/composer Guillermo Klein, has been a frequent collaborator, band-mate in Los Gauchos, and good friend of Zenón, so the sophisticated complexity of "Cantor," is dedicated to him, and his ability to inject personal nuances into his compositions. The song opens with a mysterious tango configuration as Perdomo offers a brilliant piano path in setting up the spiraling conclusion by Zenón. In keeping with his exploration into Latin music's folkloric origins, "Ciclo," revolves around the primordial foundations of melody and rhythm; and "Tipico," delves deeper into the harmonic cadences which typically distinguishes the music of the Caribbean and Latin America. This title track incorporates a myriad of influences from the montuno on the piano, to danzas, sons and boleros, all presented with improvised bravado.

The buoyant and lyrical "Sangre De Mi Sangre," is dedicated to Zenón's daughter, and features outstanding bass work by Glawischnig, who depicts the songs softness with a fine touch. He is honored on "Corteza," composed around a bass solo from the song "Calle Calma" culled from the Esta Plena record in 2009. As each band member gets his turn to shine, Perdomo's piano leads off the free jazz oriented "Entre Las Raices," which displays a secreted avant-garde side to the pianist. Cole has been Zenón's favorite drummer for what seems like forever, and his Roots Before Branches release gets a nod of appreciation with "Las Ramas." Cole has an exclusive drumming technique that sets up the songs direction, Zenón innately weaving his sax around the intricacies of the syncopation, as they go out in style.

On this record, Zenón opted for keeping the music centered around and performed strictly as a quartet. This is his way of showing appreciation for his colleagues talents and loyalty, in light of the difficulties in keeping a band together. In Zenón's own words: "The music on this recording is inspired by the musical language we've developed together over this time. I wrote music that I felt represented us as a band and showcased the things we do well. In addition, a few of the pieces were drawn directly out of musical ideas that came from my fellow band members; I transcribed what I felt are some of their most recognizable and characteristic phrases, using these as springboards for some of the compositions."

Track Listing: Academia; Cantor; Ciclo; Tipico; Sangre De Mi Sangre; Corteza; Entre Las Raices; Las Ramas.

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

Title: Tipico | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Miel Music

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