One of the most interesting aspects of modern music – Jazz, for instance – is that the music starts with the record cover. The story, its intrigue and adventure can, in the best examples, almost always follow from the one image that gives the album and musicians its singular personality. In the case of Miguel Zenón, a musical cartographer, the uniqueness of personality is accentuated by his ability to step back in time when the interpretation of the most idiosyncratic corner of tradition native to Puerto Rico and that of Jazz richly evocative, spontaneously evanescent and, above all, deeply personal. The telling of his story follows an almost marathon narrative line that began with his first album, Looking Forward (Fresh Sound, 2002), but really gathered momentum during the period that he recorded his famous trilogy: Jibaro (Marsalis Music, 2005), through Esta Plena (Marsalis Music, 2009) to Alma Adentro (Marsalis Music, 2011), with a coda on Identities Are Interchangeable (Miel Music, 2014). Tipico brings all of this to fruition in an album that celebrates a genuine musical consanguinity that has developed between Zenón and the rest of the members of this quartet.
Editor’s Pick · Featured Album · Típico
The insightful conviction that Miguel Zenón brought to the music of his trilogy +1 continues dramatically on Típico and is invariably born of his unique turn of phrase and sure-footed dance pulse. Under normal circumstances one would balk at the thought of cascades of notes. However, Miguel Zenón makes each one count as if his life depended on it, because each note is played with sensitive touch and much tonal imagination. On Típico high points arrive as sure as the sun on each of the eight tracks on the album, sometimes with slowly accelerating repeated notes and ebullience like a human shout for joy that tumble with marked appoggiaturas and clipped staccato stabs of the alto’s buttons. These relentlessly driving lines might act as a cue to pianist Luis Perdomo to follow suit, as they might also do to bassist Hans Glawischnig. All this takes place whilst drummer and itinerant doppelgänger Henry Cole maintains an irresistible lilt through the high spirits of Zenón, Perdomo and even Glawischnig. Cue “Cantor”, “Ciclo” and most especially “Típico”.
Through it all, Miguel Zenón captures the music with an alto saxophone played with a palette of delicate, kaleidoscopic colours. His melodic and extended improvisational lines contain qualities allied to a personality of exceptional purity, muscularity and creative intelligence. Moreover, he co-opts Luis Perdomo, who shapes his own fluid, expressive lines melding them with contrapuntal and architectural elegance together with Miguel Zenón. The structure that ensues makes for a ferocious display of creativity as evidenced on “Entre Las Raices”, a piece that also breaks from the rest of the material melodically, and rhythmically as well, adding snarling honks on the alto and rumbling tattoos on Cole’s tom-toms to Luis Perdomo’s delectably –coloured dissonances. Henry Cole’s breathtaking drumming comes on “Las Ramas” and is an astonishingly articulated performance from one of the most outstandingly gifted drummers today.
Of course, in the end it is Miguel Zenón who leads the charge with his adventurous virtuosic recital marked not only by insatiable curiosity as far as the unknown is concerned but also by a cavalier spirit that is sure to leave a unique legacy for younger generations of musicians and alto saxophonists as they peruse his treasure chest of musical gems such as these on Típico.
Miguel Zenón – Típico is a 60th Grammy Awards Nominee Best Latin Jazz Album. It is also an 18th Latin Grammy Awards Nominee Best Latin Jazz Album.
Track List: Academia; Cantor; Ciclo; Típico; Sangre De Mi Sangre; Corteza; Entre Las Raices; Las Ramas.
Personnel: Miguel Zenón: alto saxophone; Luis Perdomo: piano; Hans Glawischnig: bass; Henry Cole: drums.
Label: Miel Music
Release date: February 2017
Running time: 1:01:39