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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

CD Review:Miguel Zenón - Identities Are Interchangeable.

Miguel Zenón Quartet: Zenón (alt); Luis Perdomo (pno); Hans Glawischnig (bs); Henry Cole (dms).
Identities Big Band: As above + Will Vinson, Michael Thomas (alt); Samir Zarif, John Ellis (ten); Chris Cheek (bar); Mat Jodrel, Michael Rodriguez, Alex Norris, Jonathon Powell (tpt); Ryan Keberle, Alan Ferber, Tim Albright (tmb).
(Review by Lance).
To say this is an unusual record is perhaps an understatement - it's unique! It's also compelling and absolutely brilliant. So if I, as a born and bred Englishman, like it, imagine how I'd feel if I was a Puerto Rican living in New York!
Zenón - four times winner of DB's Critics' Poll in the Rising Star Alto Sax Category (how many wins does it take to graduate from the Rising Star Category?!) - is well worthy of such acclaim. On the strength of this CD we can add composer, and not just as a rising star!
It's a concept album - just about every one is these days - but this is a concept's concept!
As well as his deep involvement with music, Zenón's native culture is also very much one of his driving forces, hence this album. The Puerto Rican born leader posed a question to his friends - a question he'd been asking of himself - "What does it mean to be Puerto Rican in 21st century NYC?"
Interspersed with the music, are answers from interviews with various New Yorkers of PR descent. 
Speech as music is one of the descriptions used and it is apt. The words blend naturally into the musical surrounds and the result is a marvellous kaleidoscope of tonal colours, cross rhythms - neither totally jazz nor totally Latin - but a wonderful hybrid of the two with a symphonic feeling too, as befits a six movement opus.
Apart from Zenón, whose playing has risen far beyond the Rising Cat, John Ellis blows great tenor on Same Flight, Tim Albright (trombone) hits the spot on First Language (Spanish or English?) and overall the band and the quartet do the music justice.
The quartet tour Europe next February taking in Holland (2), Switzerland (2), France (2), Italy (2) and Germany (3) - mmm... seems there's a country missing here and I don't mean Belgium or, even more surprisingly, Spain!
Miguel Zenón  - Identities Are Interchangeable is due for release on November 4.
Visit www.miguelzenon.com.
Lance.

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