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JazzTimes 10: Essential Albums of the 2000s

A look back at a diverse decade, featuring Joshua Redman, Cassandra Wilson, Maria Schneider, and more

Allégresse by Maria Schneider
Allégresse by Maria Schneider

Miguel Zenón: Esta Plena (Marsalis Music, 2009)

The brilliant alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón, who won a genius grant from the MacArthur Foundation in 2008, mines the traditions of his native Puerto Rico on Esta Plena. This exquisite album melds the jazz ethic with plena, the percussion- and chant-heavy Puerto Rican folk music. The connection between jazz and Afro-Caribbean music has been explored in detail for decades, but Zenon’s attention to more abstruse traditions—or at least traditions unfamiliar to American ears—helped pave the way for younger musicians like pianist David Virelles, who has put out a series of scholarly albums investigating the musical folklore of Cuba, his birthplace.

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Originally Published

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.