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Before & After: Miguel Zenón

The esteemed saxophonist and composer takes his first B&A challenge

Miguel Zenon (photo: Noah Shaye)
Miguel Zenon (photo: Noah Shaye)

Over the course of his distinguished recording career, Miguel Zenón has frequently drawn inspiration from the folk traditions of his native Puerto Rico. On his new album, Sonero, out August 30 on the Miel Music label, he channels the late salsa pioneer Ismael Rivera—a little-known artist in the United States but revered elsewhere.

“He’s always been one of my heroes,” says the 42-year-old alto saxophonist, who grew up in San Juan. “He’s kind of like this mythical figure in Puerto Rico and other parts of Latin America.”

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Matthew Kassel

Matthew Kassel is a freelance writer whose work has been published by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Slate, and The Columbia Journalism Review, among other publications.