Miguel Zenon – Rayuela Concert Review

“With Rayuela, Zenón once again demonstrated why he is considered one of the best jazz musicians and one of the most creative minds in music today.”

Review and Photographs by Wilbert Sostre

With the original group that recorded his most recent album Rayuela, Puerto Rican altoist virtuoso Miguel Zenón took the stage of the Inter American University of Puerto Rico. The music from the album Rayuela is completely different from Zenón previous projects. On Rayuela, instead of fusing Jazz with Puerto Rican music like he did on the critically acclaimed albums, Jíbaro, Esta Plena and Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook, this time Zenón decided to compose music based on one of the best books in Latin American literature: “Rayuela,” by Julio Cortázar.

Miguel ZenonZenón composed half of the compositions, the French scenes from the book, and pianist Laurent Coq composed the other half, the Argentina scenes. These are compositions with an eclectic blend of textures, sounds, dense harmonics, provocative and richly inventive melodies, and technically challenging structures with an almost cinematic feel.

The concert started with a composition by Laurent Coq, the waltz like “Talita,” followed by Zenón’s classical sounds of “La Muerte de Rocamadour” highlighted by Dana Leong’s cello. A sublime piano intro led the way to the exotic sounds of Coq’s “Gekrepten”, followed by Zenón’s composition “Moreliana” based on chapter 151 of “Rayuela” (the book). After a short recess, the group came back to the stage to play Coq’s “Traveler” and “Buenos Aires”. Dana Leong masterfully played the trombone on these two pieces. The quartet almost ended the night with Zenón’s piece “El Club de la Serpiente”. After a standing and well deserved ovation the quartet closed the show with Zenón’s cinematic composition “La Maga”.

Besides the alto sax of Miguel Zenón and the piano of Laurent Coq, the instrumentation is not typical for a jazz quartet. Trombonist Dana Leong also plays the cello and drummer Dan Weiss also plays the hindu tabla. These instruments give the music an exotic and classically tinged sound.

Even though the music feels very structured, there is plenty of space for each one of these amazing musicians to display their virtuosic and ingenious improvisations.

With Rayuela, Zenón once again demonstrated why he is considered one of the best jazz musicians and one of the most creative minds in music today.

Wilbert Sostre
Member of the Jazz Journalist Association since 2010. Member of the Ponce International Jazz Festival Commitee. Studied music and guitar, 1985-86. Music studies at the University of Puerto Rico and the Music Conservatory of Puerto Rico, 1986-1990.

More from author

Related posts


Featured Posts

Omara Portuondo, Multifaceted Gem of Cuban Music

My moon app announces that in 14 hours the Supermoon of May will be here. During a full moon I often get inspired to...

Ray Barretto · Barretto Power

Barretto Power: A Celebratory Reissue on its 50th Anniversary It was 1970 when Fania Records released Barretto Power, one of a series of seminal albums...

El Gran Fellové: Part 3- When my Parents…

When my parents bought their home in 1968, Sunset Beach was just another sleepy little beach town It spanned about one mile in length, sandwiched...

El Gran Fellové: Part 2- Enter Chocolate & Celio González

Early Sunday morning… I awoke to the pleasant surprise of a Google Alert in my email. I clicked to find Variety Magazine had published an...

El Gran Fellové: Part 1- The Beginning

Francisco Fellové Valdés (October 7, 1923 – February 15, 2013), also known as El Gran Fellové (The Great Fellove), was a Cuban songwriter and...

Bobby Paunetto, New York City and The Synthesis of Music

Bobby Paunetto was an unforgettable composer, arranger, musician and recording artist. Latin Jazz Network honors him on the tenth anniversary of his death (8.10.10). His...

Jazz Plaza 2020: Ancient to the Future

Chapter four of our series: 35th Jazz Plaza International Festival in Havana In recent months I found myself in profound reflection of the term...

Ray Martinez and the Forgotten Legacy of Jazz

Sometime in the very near future, several of the jazz world's best known writers and musicologists will meet in some obscure conclave to pool...

A Brief History of the Cuban Style Conjunto

1930: The Orquesta Típica is out and the Conjunto is in The year 1930 marked a turning point in the development of popular Cuban music....

Jazz Plaza 2020: Speaking in Tongues

Chapter three of our series: 35th Jazz Plaza International Festival in Havana Featured photo: Los Muñequitos de Matanzas at El Tablao in Havana, by Danilo...

Join our mailing list

Participate in contests, giveaways and more