MIGUEL ZENÓN QUARTET at The Village Vanguard

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This article by Lisa Ellex appeared in Arte Fuse.

To celebrate the release of his new CD, IDENTITIES ARE CHANGEABLE, saxophonist and composer Miguel ZENÓN and his quartet have settled in for a week long run at the Village Vanguard (November 18-23).

One cannot imagine a more perfect blend of high energy personnel as this cohesive ensemble comprised of pianist Luis Perdomo, bassist Hans Glawischnig, and drummer Henry Cole, takes us on a multi-rhythmic ride with Zenón at the helm.  He is ingenious at constructing a set and engaging an audience.  His magnificently composed pieces — with insidiously morphing rhythms — are articulate and poetic and his alto blows the gamut from a brisk and beautiful wind dance to a tumultuous twister.

Zenón’s accomplishments as a MacArthur Genius Grant Recipient, Guggenheim Fellow and multi Grammy Award nominee can easily be eclipsed by the beauty and complexity of his compositions. On his dream-like ballad, “My Home”, Zenón’s voicings are deliciously languid and seductive; a deliriously romantic journey that gradually turns angry — much like a relationship gone wrong.  In direct contrast, the ethereal “Sangre De Mi Sangre”, a playful piece composed for Zenón’s daughter, Elena, illustrates the unadulterated joy only a child can evoke.

Born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Zenón came to New York in 1998 in pursuit of a life in music.  Now with nine recordings as a leader, his latest project examines his journey and the journey of his people. Focusing on the cultural identity of the Puerto Rican experience in the United States — but more specifically, in New York City — Zenón interviewed scores of these immigrants as well as second and third generation Puerto Ricans to ask what it means to be Puerto Rican in 21st century New York City. His impressions of this exchange inspired and formed the compositions for IDENTITIES ARE CHANGEABLE.

Like the stories specific to each immigrant, each tune here is a unique musical journey, beautifully navigated by a first-rate group of musicians.  Bassist Hans Glawischnig and drummer Henry Cole’s outstanding rhythmic talents create a marriage of superb dynamics, while pianist Perdomo’s solo on the set’s closing “Through Culture and Tradition” is something I will long remember.

The Village Vanguard is located at 178 Seventh Avenue South, New York City

(212) 255-4037

Shows at 8:30pm and 10:30pm.

Tickets $25 Sunday through Thursday, $30 Friday and Saturday.

There is a one drink minimum.

For the original report go to http://artefuse.com/2014/11/22/miguel-zenon-quartet-at-the-village-vanguard/

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