During the 2011 Newport Jazz Festival, JazzTimes set up a make-shift video production studio backstage inside the old barracks of Fort Adams. During two afternoons in August, a succession of artists-including Hiromi, Esperanza Spalding, Ambrose Akinmusire, Mostly Other People Do the Killing, Miguel Zenón, Steve Coleman and many others-came in to talk about the festival, jazz education and their own projects. We will be posting these interviews at jazztimes.com over the next few months. You can also see more of these video inteviews at the JazzTimes YouTube channel.
Since receiving a prestigious MacArthur fellowship (also known as the “genius grant”) in 2008, Miguel Zenón has been exploring his own musical roots and influences by delving into the traditional songs and forms of his native Puerto Rico. However, as he explained in this interview at the 2011 Newport Jazz Festival, he was already headed in that direction before given the support from the MacArthur grant. At his performance in Newport, Zenón featured the music from his latest album, Alma Adentro (Marsalis Music), featuring a large ensemble with arrangements by Guillermo Klein.
Backstage after the show, Zenón talked about that project and the impact the grant had on his own development as a composer and bandleader. He also discussed his early music education in Puerto Rico, as well as his schooling at Berklee and the Manhattan School.
The video was recorded by Melissa Mergner.Originally Published