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Miguel Zenon, Jibaro. The jazz world got to know Miguel Zenón quite well in 2004. The young alto saxophonist/composer expanded his already impressive sideman résumé with featured roles in the SF Jazz Collective and Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra. He also captivated numerous listeners with his heralded Marsalis Music debut, Ceremonial. With Jíbaro, his second Marsalis Music release, Zenón makes his most deeply rooted yet visionary statement to date. Among the most original, lyrical and passionate statements you will hear this year, the new disc explores the rural music of Zenón’s native Puerto Rico through his ten original compositions that both honor and expand upon the tradition with its unique sense of organization and form.
Top customer reviews
He's got it all: monster chops on alto sax; a deeply delved folkloric compositional concept (indeed, he's the Edward Simon of Puerto Rico, with this disc doing for him what La Bikina did for Simon); bandleading acumen far beyond his tender years; and that je ne sais quoi that serendipitously graces fortunate musicians every now and again.
The comparison to Edward Simon seems most apposite to these ears. Just as Simon has been able to evoke the deepest strains of Venezuelan folk musics on his handful of remarkable discs, so Zenón has done with indigenous Puerto Rican musics on this disc. Indeed, some of the numbers sound as if they could be right off of Simon's La Bikina (e.g., "Punto Cubano," and "Alguinaldo," which just goes to show, I suppose, the deep affinity the various Latin musics have with each other). That's fine by me, as La Bikina is one of my all-time favorite discs. Another apt comparison might be Egberto Gismonti and Northern Brazilian Indian music. Or again, Omar Sosa and what he's done with Cuban folk music.
In any case, this is gloriously realized world jazz of the highest order, my absolute favorite kind of music. If you have any affinity at all for this sort of thing, you will not want to miss it.