Alto saxophonist Miguel Zenon has his feet in two stylistic worlds: modern jazz and the traditional sounds of his native Puerto Rico – not just boleros, ballads and other popular forms, but also rural styles dating back to the 1800′s and the folkloric plena sound of the early 20th century. In combining present and past, traditional and modern, some artists settle for a facile hybrid style. This practicing musicologist, for whom music is a mission as much as an artistic undertaking, will have your contemplating culture even as his music lifts you to your feet.
Zenon’s alto playing, in the parlance of Muhammad Ali, can float like a butterfly and sting like a bee – sometimes simultaneously. As documented on his 2013 album, Oye!!! Live in Puerto Rico, he is an exciting performer. A founder and resident artistic director of the SFJAZZ Collective, he has appeared on recordings by any number of leading players in addition to recording his own, which also include the 2012 masterpiece,
Rayuela, a collaboration with French pianist Laurent Coq inspired by the Julio Cortazar novel (translated as Hopscotch).
A 2008 MacArthur Foundation award winner and Guggenheim Fellow, Zenon will tonight lead what promises to be one of his best bands yet. It includes Venezuelan pianist Luis Perdomo, a fierce improviser guided by the spirit of Bud Powell; Austrian bassist Hans Glawischnig, who brings a guitarist’s bag of tricks to bear on his acoustic playing, and drummer Eric Doob, a native Bostonian of slippery brilliance who has played Latin jazz with Paquito D’Rivera and Manuel Valera.