Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Miguel Zenon: Jibaro

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

Jibaro is Miguel Zenon’s first entirely original set, his second Branford Marsalis-produced effort and his third disc with pianist Luis Perdomo, bassist Hans Glawischnig and drummer Antonio Sanchez. Inspired by the rural, working-class folk music of the Puerto Rican mountains, these 10 compositions fit together with a novelistic integrity, a coherence that marks a new high for this young altoist. During “Punto Cubano” and “Villaran” the folkloric elements leap out, but for the most part they’re thoroughly enveloped in a searing modern-jazz sound, a quartet sensibility that Zenon and his mates have spent years developing. The result is profound yet joyful, as rhythmically precise as it is lyrical and limber.

Zenon may have consciously introduced an element of breath-temporal pauses, literally-into his otherwise dense music. Examples include the brief rest before the concluding head of “Seis Cinco” and the thematic use of space in the tightly composed “Aguinaldo.” The latter is a study in delayed gratification, with Glawischnig’s meditative solo laying the groundwork for Zenon’s urgent, impassioned flight. “Chorreao” is an ideal vehicle for Sanchez-an almost James Brown-like throwdown, complicated by faint traces of jibaro roots music. On “Fajardeno,” Zenon’s legato melody and Perdomo’s high voicings yield one of the album’s most striking colors. And Perdomo’s burning solos, particularly on “Villaran” and “Llanera,” remind us that he is an emerging power in his own right.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.