The Jazzcat

Miguel Zenon at the Broad Theater

by on Dec.10, 2011, under News

The Broad Stage in Santa Monica has an intimate room behind the actual theater where it hosts its jazz performances. The space is not nearly as glamorous as the main theater but the artistry of jazz music and its unmatched sophistication allows for genuine musical experiences to always be had! Such is the case each time I have had an opportunity to see the great talent that is being performed at the Broad; case and point; Miguel Zenon and his Quartet.

One of the most appreciative and humble characters in the realm of the music, Miguel Zenon graces the stage with alto sonnets that enwraps each and every individual in the smile and warmth of his tone.  With the incredible band of Luis Perdomo on piano, Hans Glawischnig on bass and Henry Cole on drums, Miguel roots his self firmly to stay grounded while his body attempts to take flight with the alto ascension before floating down as light as a feather!

I am use to seeing and hearing Miguel as a part of the SF Jazz Collection where he holds an equal and prominent position as creator, interpreter and facilitator of giant sound. Respect is continually paid as Miguel plays much of the music from his newest release on the Marsalis Music label entitled, “Alma Aldentro, The Puerto Rican Songbook”.


Being of Puerto Rican descent, second generation and living in New York, he realized that on this quite different island, there were others who have shared this similar scenario. Knowing of his own experiences and travels, Miguel decided to interview Puerto Ricans and New Yoricans, as they are called, about their experiences with life in this new cross cultural existence. The human voice is one of the most powerful instruments, especially when truth, passion, culture and expressions of living in the now carve out these stories that are saturated in the reality of today and memories of yesterday.

What emerges is a sound built and developed around the stories of these Puerto Rican interviewees. The vocal tracks are the voiceprints that are supported by and are an integral part of the music. You can hear and feel so clearly the impetus of the soul telling its story while the music dances, plays, comforts and allows us to live through it.

The ballad beauty is astounding and Perdomo’s melodic runs are preciously dynamic as he blends effortlessly with Glawischnig and Cole filling the room to support Zenon’s sublime and gentle breeze. And then, after the pause, the cats dig right down into the eye of the quiet storm touching down inside the richness of the sound.

Zenon addresses the audience with kindness and much appreciation for their participation in feeling the music. He talks about the music, his culture and mentions Rafael Hernandez, on of the most important Puerto Rican musicians who was poor and studied music there in San Juan. He learned to play many instruments and went on to write and perform music that would change and inspire his country. Miguel honors that tradition and pays homage to the local inspiration with his composition called, “Perfume de Gardenias – Rafael Hernandez”.

Driven by his trio, Miguel has the power to soar and make you want to book a trip. Some tunes are filled with daring circular rhythmic melodies that propel the sphere forward. Miguel starts spittin’ out notes like the code in the Matrix! The signal is not a distress call but a vibration filled with passion and fueled with love and respect for culture and sound. Listen to the voices, feel the tempo of the waters and come to understand.


LeRoy Downs – The Jazzcat


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