Tuesday, June 2, 2015



Free outdoor program of the 36th edition of the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal

A pulsing Planet Jazz!

Montreal, Tuesday, June 2, 2015 — In less than 4 weeks, the 36th edition of the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, presented by TD in collaboration with Rio Tinto Alcan, will turn this city into the epicenter of jazz and its musical cousins, welcoming thousands of the world’s greatest artists in one super-concentrated 10-day musical celebration! Better yet, almost 2/3 of the concerts in the program will be presented completely free, allowing everyone the chance to enjoy his or her favourite artists and discover new talents, without spending a penny! This Festival is the largest example of this free-concert formula in the world, and it’s exclusive to Montreal! Festival fans will not only discover more than 600 concerts and free activities, but also a genuine festival experience, with an unparalleled microcosm of everything that inspires summertime passions, in a safe pedestrian environment closed to vehicle traffic, with something for everyone, including a pram loan service and bike parking, along with activities for children, parades and an astonishingly wide variety of food offerings.

Of course, the site has a wide array of new additions this year. First—and long-awaited!—we finally present the new Club Jazz Casino de Montréal, located on De Bleury St. below Ste. Catherine St., on what will henceforth be called Place SNC-Lavalin. Dive into the experience of a genuine outdoor jazz club, just like in New Orleans, birthplace of jazz and driving inspiration for this new location where jazz is king, the cocktails flow and live music rolls continuously from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. every evening! And of course, “jazz club” means delicious food and drinks as well! From crab cakes to the oyster bar, specialty cocktails and jambalaya, this oasis in the downtown core will transport you to the Crescent City faster than you can say “jazz”!

In yet more new additions, at the northern extremity of the site, on the Promenade des Artistes (De Maisonneuve Blvd.), fans can comfortably settle into the Terrasse Heineken for some jazz or, a little further east, near the CBC/Radio-Canada/Sony blues stage, get hooked on the new Texas Bill BBQ grill, prepared in the purest tradition of the Wild West! Fans will also fall for the Bistro Le porc du Québec (delicious porchetta!) and rum-based cocktails of Bar Bacardi (corner St. Urbain St. and Ste. Catherine St.), or plan out a future trip to Turkey at the Turkish Airlines tourism kiosk (Balmoral St., near the TD Stage). Also, the Place Confort TD boasts a reconceived space with a live show program and a relaxation zone. Finally, the Rio Tinto Alcan Family Club moves to the top of the stairs of the Place des Arts esplanade, next to the MAC, with an even more alluring space featuring a lawn and picnic tables. And speaking of the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal: in addition to presenting music in workshops in the Rio Tinto Alcan Family Club from July 2 to 5, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., it also invites all fans to visit its permanent exhibition free of charge!

Ready to kick off your summer? To help everyone stay patient until then (and allow you to plan out your personalized schedule), here’s a glimpse of what awaits us from June 26 to July 5, in the heart of Planet Jazz:

This 36th edition is dedicated to the King of the Blues (1925-2015)
The Grand Blues Evening in memory of B.B. King
July 5, 9 p.m. and 11 p.m., TD Stage

A regal figure of the blues, the late B.B. King will remain eternally stamped in the history of this Festival, to which he was deeply linked—in fact, an Award was created in his name last summer in order to annually recognize the exceptional talent of a blues artist. Organizers of this Festival passionately dedicate this 36th edition to him. The great B.B. will be foremost in our thoughts throughout the event, particularly via his presence among the 24 Legends of the Festival, the windows of the Maison du Festival Rio Tinto Alcan, which look out over thousands of music fans gathering to experience their favourite event. To pay tribute to his legacy, the crème de la crème of the Québécois blues scene gathers onstage in a grand evening anchored by incomparable harmonica wizard Guy Bélanger and his band, with an army of high-profile guests—Bob Walsh, Jordan Officer, Kim Richardson, Brian Tyler, Angel Forrest, Mike Goudreau, Jimmy James, Conor Gains, Jean Fernand Girard, Mathieu Holubowski…

Two major free outdoor events

 Beirut — June 26, 9:30 p.m., TD Stage — To celebrate the opening of this 36th edition in fine fashion, here’s an unprecedented concert starring Beirut, who will open their latest tour right here with us. The group’s sound is a dizzying musical travelogue inspired by Eastern Europe and the Balkans, with pit-stops along the Mexican coast, in French culture and pop North American pop. It’s world music that invents an entirely new musical landscape where everyone feels perfectly at home. The sun never sets on Beirut’s musical empire!

The Barr Brothers — June 29, 9:30 p.m., TD Stage — The Montreal quartet—brothers Brad and Andrew Barr, harpist Sarah Page and multi-instrumentalist Andrés Vial—promises an unforgettably magical musical moment unveiling songs from their latest album, the fantastic Sleeping Operator. It’s a warm, enveloping sound, poised between Americana folk tinged with Delta blues and rock with African inflections, charged with a purely modernist instinct. Prepare for sheer musical transport, a hypnotic and explosive Montreal Festival experience!

A glimpse of the program, stage by stage

TD Stage (Place des Festivals)

In addition to the Grands événements, the Place des Festivals welcomes:

Performances TD series, 9 p.m. and 11 p.m.

The Franklin Electric — June 27— The Montreal group makes its major-league Festival entrance, with a syncopated folk music that is utterly irresistible.

Orchestre national de jazz de Montréal — July 1— The ONJ finally launches its 1st album! With Ingrid Jensen and Karen Young, conducted by Christine Jensen.

Adam Cohen — July 4 — Adam Cohen presents his spellbinding, fluid new album in a free outdoor concert. A gift to the city!

Gammes TD series, 6 p.m.

Jane Bunnett and Maqueque — June 29 — The excellent Canadian saxophonist and flautist assembles 5 gifted young Cuban musicians ready to bring the house down. Jubilant!

Pram Trio — July 3 — Winners of last year’s TD Grand Jazz Award, these 3 Toronto musicians combine elements of traditional jazz with contemporary styles.

Guy Nadon — July 5 — Our favourite standard-bearer of the local jazz scene returns for a 32nd victory lap at the Festival, more passionate and creative than ever.

Rio Tinto Alcan Stage (corner Ste. Catherine and Jeanne-Mance)

Soirées jazzy Rio Tinto Alcan series, 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Sonny Knight & The Lakers — June 30 (exclusively at 8 p.m.) — At 66, Sonny Knight just released his debut album… a raw soul/funk explosion!

Marie-Christine — July 2 — Haitian-born Montreal singer-pianist is back with her irresistible charm and Caribbean soul-funk groove.

Ginkgoa — July 4 and 5 — She’s a New Yorker, he’s a Parisian; together, using the same producer as Caravan Palace, they create a super-energetic music where pop, swing and electronic beats meet to get feet moving!

Club Jazz Casino de Montréal (Place SNC-Lavalin, on De Bleury St., below Ste. Catherine St.)

Apéros Casino de Montréal series, 5 p.m.

Jean-Nicolas Trottier — June 29 — One of the most high-profile musicians on the Canadian jazz scene, trombonist Jean-Nicolas Trottier unveils a glimpse of his protean talent.

Ariel Pocock — July 1 — Gifted with a distinctive talent that has already brought her international recognition, American jazz pianist and singer Ariel Pocock presents her debut album. A breath of fresh air and originality!

Oran Etkin — July 3 — The perfect balance between jazz and world music: this internationally renowned Israeli multi-instrumentalist unveils another definition of jazz with his new album.

Brunantes Casino de Montréal series, 7 p.m.

Moutin Factory Quintet — June 29 — Twin brothers François and Louis Moutin (double bassist and drummer, respectively) assemble the finest musicians in French jazz for a solid groove project!

MJF6 — July 2 — Saxophonist Marie-Josée Frigon gathers her longtime friends—Tony Albino (drums), Jean-François Gagnon (trumpet), Pierre Grimard (keyboards) Jean François Beaudet (guitar) and Jean-Bertrand Carbou (bass)—for a project that pitches between soaring jazz and daring grooves.

Mathieu Désy Contrebasse & marées — July 4 — The composer and double bass virtuoso presents a first release of original compositions performed with skill, sensitivity and refinement.

Escales nocturnes Casino de Montréal series, 9 p.m.

The Brooks — June 26 and 27 — A musical potion that shakes things up and gets everyone dancing and smiling, conceived by the group behind the Soul Therapy evenings. Undeniable!

Troker — June 30 and July 1 — Six Mexican experimental jazz musicians fuse rock, funk, hip-hop, dubstep and even powerhouse metal riffs with savage joy and an explosive energy.

The Souljazz Orchestra — July 4 and 5 — This colourful orchestra blends jazz, funk, Afro, Latin and soul with skill and enthusiasm. And they’re back on the outdoor site: magical!

Complexe Desjardins’ Grande-Place

The Little School of Jazz presented by Rio Tinto Alcan every day, 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., June 26 to July 5.

Les Zélèves, a vocal harmony quintet led by Victor-Jacques Ménard, alongside James Gelfand and his quartet, and Festival mascot Ste-Cat, happily welcome young and old to their jazz lessons, a dynamic, interactive and fun-filled musical initiation!

CBC/Radio-Canada/Sony Stage (Maison symphonique parterre, corner De Montigny St. and Clark St.)

Spectacles blues CBC/Radio-Canada series, 7 p.m.

Whisky Legs — June 26 — This group is steeped in a mind-blowing, visceral and resolutely ’60s universe where groove, soul and blues-rock rule, with a true rebel spirit and spectacular energy.

Paul DesLauriers Band & Friends — July 1, also at 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. — The guitar virtuoso and exceptional vocalist offers us big-time blues with two other pillars of the Québec scene: Greg Morency and Sam Harrisson.

Conor Gains Band — July 4 — A little guitar genius, back with his band and a new blues CD hopped up with pop, rock, Cajun, soul and boogie-woogie.

Soirées blues series, presented by Sony, 9 p.m. and 11 p.m.

The Wanton Bishops — June 27 — Bound by friendship and a cavernous, hardcore blues-rock with a glorious garage sound, Lebanese duo Nader and Eddy Land with their fierce, massive musical energy!

Jordan Officer, I'm Free — June 30 — This Montreal swing alchemist is one of our finest purveyors of the blue note, returning with his irresistible sound.

The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band — July 4 — An unconventional family trio unleashes a diabolical, rustic country-blues steeped in hillbilly tradition and powered by punk rock energy!

Bell Stage (Clark North esplanade)

Tropiques Bell series, 8 p.m.

Las Cafeteras — June 27 — Alternative Latino music with a deep social conscience from these children of immigrants, born in the streets of Los Angeles, fusing spoken word, ska, folk, zapateado, Afro-Caribbean and Amerindian musics.

Face-T — July 2 — The emblematic figure on the reggae-dancehall scene lands with fresh, colourful musical flavours, seasoned with electronic rhythms.

Jungle By Night — July 4, also at 10 p.m. — Nine young Amsterdam musicians with a an unconditional love for Afrobeat, music they passionately fuse with Ethiopian music and jazz, funk and rock… The future of Afrobeat!

Groove Bell series, 10 p.m.

Heart Streets — June 26 — Two lovely, talented young Montrealers entwine their fluid, fluttering voices in a unique urban beats sound that nods to the ’90s. This duo is making more and more noise locally!

Jazzmatik — June 27 — Just for the Festival, former Muzion member Dramatik reinterprets his classics accompanied by a brass band and demonstrates how jazz and hip-hop are one. Do not miss this!

Emmanuel Jal — July 2 and 3 — A child soldier who became an actor, playing alongside Reese Witherspoon in The Good Lie, Jal is a committed peace activist and a global hip-hop icon!

Lounge Heineken (corner Ste. Catherine St. and De Bleury St.)

Lounge Heineken series, 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Hell’s Kitchen — June 26 and 27 — Visceral, fascinating music straight from the gut, served up by a Swiss trio that whips up the blues like they just rolled out of Mississippi.

Andre Papanicolaou — June 30 — Influenced by the folk-rock stylings of Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young, he delivers a luminous, soaring new album, shimmering with catchy melodies.

Sondre Lerche — July 2 and 3 — This Norwegian singer ranks among the most gifted of his generation, rolling in with his 7th album.

L’Astral (Maison du Festival Rio Tinto Alcan, 305 Ste. Catherine St. W.)

Open House series, midnight, presented by Bacardi

Speakeasy Electro Swing — June 26 to 30, midnight, L’Astral — Born on the semi-sly in a Montreal loft five years back, the monthly Speakeasy Electro Swing evenings are now an essential feature among true dance fans, marring the music of the first Great Depression to the technology of the second… and making it all swing like the devil!

DJ Melodrastik — July 2 to 4, midnight, L’Astral — Inexorably drawn to dramatic melodies, poignant swells and cascades and aggressive ambience, DJ Melodrastik relentlessly mixes breakbeats, electro, house and swing. This beauty on the beat loves bass and knows exactly how to get her crowd grooving!

Montreal Swing Riot presents the Lindy Hop Jam with the Gordon Webster Band — July 5 (also at 9 p.m.) — An evening of swing dance and jazz pairing up and cutting a rug, reviving the Roaring Twenties!

Bistro Le Balmoral (Maison du Festival Rio Tinto Alcan, 305 Ste. Catherine St. W.)

Musique au Balmoral series, 10 p.m. and midnight

Trio Jean Félix Mailloux — June 26 and 27 — A lovely evening in the company of composer Jean Félix Mailloux, who explores pieces by Erik Satie and others.

Andréa Blaze — June 28 and 29 — Jazz, Brazilian influences and R&B are perfectly blended in music that makes for a marvelous late evening dinner-show!

Chris y Miguel — June 30 and July 1 — Flamenco and virtuosity enhanced by their communication and friendship. A true musical pleasure!

Miss Mellow — July 2 and 3 — A gentle voyage through the history of jazz and its influences.

Olivier Babaz — July 4 and 5 — Jazz, folk, rock and world music meet in the hands of the excellent French double bassist and composer, who lands here with his latest album.

Savoy du Métropolis (59 Ste. Catherine St. E.)

Nightcap Heineken series presented by SiriusXM, midnight

Urban Science, #LECYPHER —June 26 to 28 — This colourful crew brings fiery beats and a brilliantly celebratory atmosphere. Groovy and crazy-wild!

CherfunK — June 29, June 30 and July 1 — Alexis Martin, François Richard, Rémy Malo, Luc Lemire and Serge Arsenault juggle languages, styles and plenty of guests—Alexandre Désilets and Coco Thompson (every evening), as well as Tomas Jensen and Conde Artifex (June 29) and Boogat (June 30 and July 1)—who assemble in on massive musical fraternity.

Busty and the Bass — July 2 — This electrifying McGill University electro-funk-soul-jazz-hip-hop brass band just won the CBC nationwide Rock Your Campus contest!

The concerts kick off at noon!

The JazzFest des jeunes series, presented by Rio Tinto Alcan at noon and 3 p.m., welcomes the very best in high school and college jazz bands to the Rio Tinto Alcan Stage. At 1 p.m. (and again at 5 p.m. in the Complexe Desjardins’ Grande-Place), Les Envolées du Festival presents university combos in the Lounge Heineken. Finally, throughout the duration of the Festival, West Trainz—a parade with 5 musicians riding on a wagon train outfitted with instrument-sculptures!—transports us on a revealing, poetic and, above all, danceable voyage!

The Blues Camp: 10th anniversary!

The Blues Camp presented by TD is already celebrating its 10th edition! Ten years of making dreams come true for blues fans ages 13 to 17 by offering them a week-long musical day camp—absolutely free! From June 28 to July 4, the Camp will welcome some 50 teens and give them the opportunity to devote themselves to their musical passion, surrounded by renowned professionals from the music milieu de. And then, on July 4 at 6 p.m. on the TD Stage, we’ll all witness as they unveil their burgeoning talents!

Bell presents the Contest: Music Changes Lives

The Festival International de Jazz de Montréal and Bell invite all up-and-coming guitarists to come showcase their talent, and earn the chance to win a guitar from the private collection of the Festival (valued at over $3000)! Information and registration: Members of the public can even vote for their favourite guitarist at the Boîte Bell on the Place des Festivals!

Galerie Lounge TD: a piece by Janine Carreau and Pierre Gauvreau

The Galerie Lounge TD, located for the Festival period in the exhibition hall in l’Espace culturel Georges-Émile-Lapalme, Place des Arts, showcases a wealth of artistic treasures with jazz as their common thematic passion. Throughout this 36th edition, the Festival and the Galerie Lounge TD are proud to present the moving silkscreen Trente ans plus tard, mon amour !, created from a work by Janine Carreau and Pierre Gauvreau, available in a limited edition of numbered and signed copies. Fans can also purchase a limited-edition silkscreen of Électron libre, the latest creation by our artist in residence for over 25 years, Yves Archambault.

Thanks to our partners

We sincerely thank our principal sponsor and official presenter, TD, as well as Rio Tinto Alcan, co-presenter of the Festival, for their continued support. Thanks also to Bell, Casino de Montréal, the Société des Alcools du Québec, Heineken, Sony and all of our suppliers and collaborators. We thank the Government of QuébecMinistère du Tourisme, Secrétariat à la région métropolitaine, ministère de la Culture et des Communications/SODEC—the Government of CanadaHeritage Canada, Economic Development Canada, Musicaction—as well as the Ville de Montréal and Tourisme Montréal. Thanks also to our media partners and the entire Festival team.

Stay connected at all times with everything you love, whether it’s before, during or after the event. Video excerpts, artist information, access to archives from previous editions of the Festival, a video channel—in other words, an essential online destination for all music fans. A tourist service is also available. For information, particularly on à la carte tourism packages:

Reporters who are active on Twitter are invited to use these references: #FIJM or @MtlJazzFestival

Source: Festival International de Jazz de Montréal514 523-3378

Friday, May 29, 2015

MIGUEL ZENON: European Tour

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Miguel Zenón July European Tour & More

Miguel Zenón
  Here's some information about acclaimed saxophonist and composer Miguel Zenón's summer activities.

He performs thirteen dates in eleven European cities July 3 – July 17, 2015. Joined by his quartet featuring drummer Henry Cole, pianist Luis Perdomo and bassist Hans Glawischnig, Zenón plays music from his groundbreaking recording Identities are Changeable, a project focusing on the cultural identity of the Puerto Rican community in NYC. A press release about the tour is below.
In addition, Miguel will make the following appearances:

- Artist in Residence at New England Conservatory's Jazz Lab with a performance on June 22

- June 25 - 28 at The Jazz Showcase in Chicago

- July 21 & 22 at the Pan American Games in Toronto as a special guest of Danilo Perez

Internationally Renowned Saxophonist/Composer Miguel Zenón and his Quartet
Perform Music From Recent CD Identities Are Changeable

On Thirteen-Date European Tour Friday, July 3 – Friday, July 17, 2015

 “This young musician and composer is at once reestablishing the artistic, cultural, and social tradition of jazz while creating an entirely new jazz language for the 21st century.” — MacArthur Foundation

Identities are Changeable is a stoutly ambitious new statement by the alto saxophonist and composer Miguel Zenón…His focus turns here to the Nuyorican experience, interpolating snippets of oral history into his state-of-the-art big band arrangements.” — Nate Chinen, New York Times

"Music of extraordinary depth and originality... his most ambitious recording to date."
— Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune

Internationally acclaimed saxophonist/composer Miguel Zenón performs thirteen dates in eleven European cities from July 3 – July 17, 2015. Joined by his quartet featuring drummer Henry Cole, pianist Luis Perdomo and bassist Hans Glawischnig, Zenón performs music from his groundbreaking recording Identities are Changeable, a project focusing on the cultural identity of the Puerto Rican community in NYC. They appear:

Friday, July 3: Funchal Jazz Festival, Madeira, Portugal
Saturday, July 4 – Sunday, July 5: Hot Club, Lisbon, Portugal
Monday, July 6: Copenhagen Jazz Festival, Copenhagen, Denmark
Wednesday, July 8: Unterfahrt, Munich, Germany
Thursday, July 9: Sunside, Paris, France
Friday, July 10: Ezcaray Jazz Festival, Ezcaray, Spain
Saturday, July 11 – Sunday, July 12:  Bogui Jazz, Madrid, Spain
Tuesday, July 14: Umbria Jazz Festival, Umbria, Italy
Wednesday, July 15: Jimmy Glass, Valencia, Spain
Thursday, July 16: Festival des Hauts de Garonnes, Bordeaux, France
Friday, July 17: Pori Jazz Festival, Pori, Finland

Multiple Grammy® nominee and Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellow Zenón is one of a select group of musicians who have masterfully balanced and blended the often-contradictory poles of innovation and tradition. Widely considered one of the most groundbreaking and influential saxophonists of his generation, he has also developed a unique voice as a composer and as a conceptualist, concentrating his efforts on perfecting a fine mix between Latin American folkloric music and jazz. Born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Zenón has recorded and toured with a wide variety of musicians including Charlie Haden, Fred Hersch, Kenny Werner, Bobby Hutcherson and Steve Coleman and is a founding member of the SFJAZZ Collective.

He has earned wide critical acclaim for Identities are Changeable.  For this project the alto saxophonist and composer asked his friends the question he had been asking himself:

What does it mean to be Puerto Rican in 21st-century New York City?

That was the point of departure for Identities Are Changeable, the startlingly original album by Zenón, who grew up in the island’s main city of San Juan and came to New York in 1998 to pursue a career in music.

Zenón’s experience of moving via the air bridge from the small Antillean island to the landing strip 1600 miles north is something he shares with hundreds of thousands of other “Puerto Rican-New Yorkers.” Puerto Ricans are not immigrants in the United States: for nearly a century – since 1917 – Puerto Ricans have, unlike other natives of Latin America, been US citizens, able to come and go as they please between the island of Puerto Rico and the mainland. When they come north, overwhelmingly they go to New York City. After different waves of migration over the decades – most numerously in the 1950s – about 1.2 million “Puerto Rican-Americans” were living in the greater New York area as of 2012.

Zenón did his own fieldwork for the project, interviewing New Yorkers of Puerto Rican descent, focusing on their experience as second-generation Puerto Ricans. The conversations centered on a single question: what makes a Puerto Rican a Puerto Rican. As Zenón notes: “There is, of course, no correct answer, but the many answers and impressions that came from these conversations eventually served as the main source of inspiration for the music on this piece. Video images and audio clips from these interviews interact with the music and make a case for the fact that national identity can be multiple and changeable—that in many cases our nationality can be within us, no matter where we’re from or the language we speak.”

Zenón has expanded his musical and theatrical boundaries with this ambitious big band project built around his longtime quartet and accompanying video. Identities Are Changeable is a thrilling counterpoint of music, language, and images. Cross-cutting between Puerto Rico and New York, it’s all about living contrapuntally, exploring the split focus of Puerto Rican cultural identity, by unpacking foundational forces such as family, language, ritual, neighborhood, and memory. Zenón investigates this dichotomy in composition and arrangements, coupled with his sensuous and soulful mastery of the saxophone. In Identities Are Changeable, he scales new heights as cultural guide.

The resultant work is a song cycle for large ensemble, with his longtime quartet (Luis Perdomo, piano; Hans Glawischnig, bass; Henry Cole, drums) at the center, incorporating recorded voices from a series of interviews conducted by Zenón. Commissioned as a multi-media work by Montclair State University’s Peak Performances series, it has a multi-media element with audio and video footage from the interviews, complemented by a video installation created by artist David Dempewolf. It’s been performed at such prestigious venues as the New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall in Boston, The SFJAZZ Center in San Francisco, and Zankel Hall in the Carnegie Hall complex in New York City.

Zenón explains: “all of the compositions explore the idea of multiple rhythmic structures coexisting with each other (e.g., 5 against 7, 3 against 2, 5 against 3).” Drummer Henry Cole has his hands (and feet) full holding down the simultaneous time streams, as does Zenón when he conducts the group live. The players are a selected elite team – hear John Ellis’s tenor solo on “Same Fight,” or Tim Albright’s trombone feature on “First Language.” There’s no way to convey in words the impact of the orchestral effects, but reviewing the Zankel Hall performance for The New York Times, Ben Ratliff writes:

“[The] sound and language didn’t directly suggest traditional Puerto Rican music or traditional jazz. Its rhythm was phrased almost completely in stacked or odd meter, with parts of the band shifting into double or half time, and Mr. Zenón’s saxophone darting around the chord changes or resting on top, in long tones.

There was drama and momentum in the music’s developing harmonic movement; at times a shift to a new chord felt like an event. All the music was deeply hybridized and original, complex but clear.”

It’s all at the service of Zenón’s relentless curiosity, as he writes in the album’s liner notes:

When I first came into contact with Puerto Rican communities in this country, I was shocked to meet second and third generation Puerto Ricans who were as connected to the traditions of their parents/grandparents and as proud to be Puerto Rican as the people I knew back home. Where was this sense of pride coming from? What did they consider their first language? Their home? What did it mean to them to be Puerto Rican? What are the elements that help us shape our national identity?

If the music doesn’t directly answer these questions, it provides a way into thinking about them. Like Zenón’s other music, it’s about an entire society, but it’s deeply personal.

Identities are Changeable was released November 4, 2014 on Zenon’s Miel Music.

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Sunday, May 24, 2015

MIGUEL ZENON - Identities are Changeable

Year: 2014

Style: Latin Jazz

Label: miel MUSIC

Musicians: Miguel Zenón Quartet: Miguel Zenón - alto saxophone; Luis Perdomo - piano; Hans Glawischnig - bass; Henry Cole - drums.

"Identities" Big Band: Will Vinson, Michael Thomas - alto saxophones; Samir Zarif, John Ellis (solo on "Same Fight") - tenor saxophones; Chris Cheek - baritone saxophone; Mat Jodrel, Michael Rodriguez, Alex Norris, Jonathan Powell - trumpets; Ryan Keberle, Alan Ferber, Tim Albright (solo on "First Language") - trombones.

CD Review: "MIGUEL ZENON - Identities are Changeable" represents a boldly innovative examination of the concept of national identity with respect to the "Nuyorican experience." It is an intimate and powerful soundtrack to the shifting culture, and changing national identity of one of the largest populations of Puerto Ricans outside of Puerto Rico. Echoing out of the life experiences and eloquent testimonies of second and third generation New Yorkers of Puerto Rican descent, it is distinct and riveting. Zenon, a native-born Puerto Rican, adds the weight of empiricism to this undertaking and provides unimpeachable sources with credible evidence to support his thesis: that identities are indeed changeable. Zenon's music compositions are steeped in jazz's highly original commodity: spontaneity, which readily qualifies his concepts as cutting edge, modern, " entirely new jazz language for the 21st century" - MacArthur Foundation; yet the cultures and identities he connects are as old as music itself. 

This is not the mambo, or stinging salsa - not to disparage these great, and enduring Latin music genres: Zenón however, is brought to jazz by an obsession over conceptualization and improvisation, and couches his music in the terms of folklore, classical, and the modern jazz idiom. Since this is a six-part song cycle, written to feature a quartet and twelve-piece large ensemble, each part must be evaluated and appreciated individually. The work, in toto, is undefinable, but deeply appealing stylistically as a result of Zenón's ability to solo over a diverse repertoire of songs and tempos; a residual of early influence by alto saxophonist Charlie Parker, that is blended with Coltrane-like spiritual conceptualizations and impressions.

It is the individuality of each piece that allows Zenón's compositions to be logical and to paint in 'living language' the colorful backgrounds of changing ideas, norms and national identities. As an example, in the overture the question of origin is asked (Where Are You From?), and answered by Patricia Zenón and Juan Flores against the excited, collective heart beat of Luis Perdomo's piano, Hans Glawishnig's bass and Henry Cole's drums. Patricia Zenón is born in the Bronx, New York of a Puerto Rican mother and father. Juan Flores is born in Alexandria, Virginia of a Hungarian mother and Puerto Rican father: the forming of an expanding diaspora is palpable in Miguel Zenón's writing and out of the driving brass; its bold, rhythmic sinews stretching through the Bronx; Manhattan; East Harlem ("El Barrio"); and on out to Hartford, Connecticut, Virginia and points beyond; energetic, colorful, always singularly exciting.

The contention that (Identities are Changeable) argues that it occurs in several ways: Third generation 'Nuyoricans' resolve the question of who they are by understanding that ideas are constantly changing; "you can be more than one cultural identity...but nevertheless, being Puerto Rican does matter, and should matter." The "crossing" of this logical pathway is also described in the band's reflection of the conviction; becoming more deep-throated in its swing, Chris Cheek's baritone saxophone adds a critical tonal link between the other horns and the rhythm section; simultaneously providing the sonic breadth and depth for a perfectly improvised, forward-leaning Zenón alto saxophone solo that evokes an inspired, spontaneous reaction from pianist Luis Perdomo; then, as the mood subsides, a prideful voice resolves the conflict of national identity at the root: "We don't say that we are Puerto Rican-Americans. We reject the hyphen. We are Puerto Ricans."

In this context, nostalgia seems inevitable: with "Nuyoricans" though, it is painless; as is the consideration of (My Home), which, without any argument, or second thought, is New York. (First Language) is comfortably and easily settled in the communication with elders: it is Spanish. In these regards, Zenón's writing and the ensemble's playing are respectfully sensitive; introspective, but never somber. The music of 'Latinos y Latinas,' seldom is.

Music helps to quantify the milestones and memorable moments that accrue to sustain a people's hopes and dreams. Nuyoricans are aware of, and understand the rich traditions of folkloric, Spanish and African in Puerto Rican music, even though they find themselves serendipitously influenced by musicians ranging in tastes from rock guitar legend Jimi Hendrix, to Puerto Rican salsa legends Héctor Lavoe and Willie Colon. By all accounts, music is a seminal link that Nuyoricans maintain to the deepest, most transformative traditions that shape cultural norms, construct national identities and ensure survivability. 

Zenón reveals his own sense of national pride in the climactic song (Through Culture and Tradition); a composition toting an overwhelming rising moment purchased from a purposeful, folkloric, rhythmic core, seasoned with hypnotic hip-hop cadences, and seared by mambo-specific vignettes from fiery brass. African drumming and the festive, celebratory feel of the Spanish contradanza serve to radiate a surreal power that can arrest a spirit, or move it. The collective song cycle/interviews reveal the vital relationship between the 'Nuyorican's' world of thought, beliefs, ideas, traditions, and its material counterpart: where they live, how they thrive, which social categories they participate in and inhabit with their beloved music. 

"Miguel Zenón - Identities are Changeable" is an exciting, compelling date. It is a wonderful outcome and return from the shock Zenón felt on meeting "second and third generation Puerto Ricans who were as connected to the traditions of their parents/grandparents and as proud to be Puerto Rican as the people I knew back home" (Miguel Zenón). It reveals Zenón as a serious artist with the ability to perceive an unopened door to art, and ask not only,"why?" But, "how come?".

Track Listing: ¿De Dónde Vienes? (Overture); Identities are Changeable; My Home; Same Fight; First Language; Second Generation Lullaby; Through Culture and Tradition; ¿De Dónde Vienes? (Outro)  

Recorded at: Systems Two, Brooklyn, NY by Max Ross
Additional recording at: The HR Studios, Frankfurt, Germany by Axel Gutzler
Mixed by: Brian Montgomery
Mastered by: Randy Merrill

Produced by Miguel Zenón
Associate producer - Robert Mailer Anderson

Saturday, May 23, 2015


Alto saxophonist Miguel Zenon
As part of a West Coast tour to promote his latest CD: "MIGUEL ZENON - Identities are Changeable," Miguel Zenon and his quartet made a live appearance at the Addition, formerly Yoshi's Jazz Club, located at 1330 Fillmore St., San Francisco, on Thursday 14, November, 2014 at 8:00 p.m.  Apart from the launch of the new CD, It was an important gig on another count: This was Zenon's first appearance at the Addition, now San Francisco's "newest" first class Jazz Club. So things were lining up nicely: first class jazz club hosting first class jazz musician whose stellar reputation precedes him.

It had rained during the previous night and day; the effects of the tail end of a brief Fall storm were still being felt, and by evening The City was sultry, gray and cool. However, this did not prevent a zealous core of Zenon's many San Francisco Bay Area supporters from coming out to see and hear him. In retrospect, the crowd was perfect. As it turned out, over the evening's performance they unwittingly became, 'a special crowd.' They got to see 'a special Zenon' and come face-to-face with a solidly compact juggernaut of jazz, more concretely described as "The Miguel Zenon experience,' featuring Luis Perdomo on piano, Hans Glawischnig on bass, Eric Goode on drums and Zenon playing alto saxophone.

Prior knowledge of Miguel Zenon's affinity for representing concepts of "Bird's" stylistic influence and "Trane's" spiritualism in his (Zenon's) performance persona, barely prepares one for the startling impact of seeing him in a live setting. The experience is electric and visceral. Zenon's range of sound, power, sustained energy and improvising prowess, starkly recall the late, great tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin - the difference in choice of horns is academic; the constants being blinding talent, technique and will. Jazz's cognoscenti re-framed Griffin in superhero light, and renamed him "Volcano" and "The Little Giant"; each an artistic nom de guerre perfectly attributable to Zenon any given day or night.

It started out like any other of a million nights in jazz: the players strode easily on stage following their P. A. introduction, and after the briefest of moments for last minute stage adjustments, Eric Goode's drums began an urgent call of attention to the uptempo title track (Identities are Changeable), with its delicious, organized turbulence bursting from the rhythm section; and without a big band to account for (as on the CD) there was lots of space for Zenon's alto to work on the inside like a prize fighter well-schooled in the raw pugilism of the 'body attack.' This musical first-shot of Zenon's across the audience's bow was greeted with warm applause. Next came the composition "My Home," a slow, circular musical pursuit between Zenon's alto and Perdomo's piano that eventually drew Glawischnig's bass and Goode's drums into a dizzying elongated climax. The audience stirred more noticeably when the tune ended, and voices began to say things. Zenon seemed to sense an opportunity to break the audience down for a kill, the way Felix "Tito" Trinidad used to break down boxing opponents; skillfully and efficiently. 

Zenon paused for a few minutes to introduce the players, and to give the room some background history of the CD, but he quickly went back to the business at hand. Luis Perdomo's piano then stared the next session with an attention-getting, repeating pattern of notes to introduce (Through Culture and Tradition), a composition with complex, constantly changing time signatures that kept the audience in a constant state of anticipation and simultaneously in the throes of successive climaxes that kept building, one on the other. It is one of the most danceable pieces on the CD, and Goode's African-style drumming exchanges over piano and bass gave Zenon's antic alto the perfect soundscape to lure the room into a fever pitch that soon became punctuated with paroxysms of shrieks and applause...

Suddenly, in the middle a particularly scorching Zenon alto solo, as if on command, the entire room rose in unison; almost beside themselves; clapping hands; animated as one; Zenon had set the voodoo loose, and moved the crowd to the realm of totally 'free spirits'; he saw the whites of their eyes, and immediately kicked it into high gear; his lithe body becoming an extension of the pulsating, undulating alto saxophone; now a blur of rhythm and motion, in motion. Zenon could not stop if he wanted to, there was fire coming from his horn; the crowd was erupting; waitresses froze in place, and an usher parked near my table had trouble controlling himself...Zenon was blowin' them away; he went higher, and higher, and higher; longer, and longer...something serious had transpired, because when Zenon did pull back on his fire, and halted the onslaught, the air buzzed like lightning had struck it. "The Zenon Experience" had was real! 

Zenon had taken measure of their commitment and trust in him, and he had given back an intimate, passionate, exciting performance: he had taken them past the point of no return. No one would forget this night, or Zenon.

To complete the evening's performance, the band played two more pieces from the CD: (Second Generation Lullaby), remarkable for a down-reaching bass solo from Hans Glawischnig that drew out of Zenon's alto one of his most melodic and memorable offerings of the date; and the final selection of the evening (First Language) saw the quartet going out as it came in, on coherent, intense polyrhythmic drumming from Eric Goode, while the rest of the band focused in the moment, on giving the best of themselves to the end.

Zenon's creative spirit burns with a fierce flame that lights his path forward. He is excited about what he sees, and shows it. He may approximate welterweight in physical stature, but he's a hell of a welterweight! And when he whips out his alto saxophone to play, he turns into an authentic, bona fide...GIANT!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


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New England Conservatory Jazz Faculty Members
Jason Moran, Miguel Zenón and Dave Holland

Plus NEC Graduate & Board of Visitors Member Regina Carter
And Former NEC Prep Student Mary Halvorson

Winners of 2015 JJA Jazz Awards for Musical Achievement

New England Conservatory Jazz Studies Department faculty members Jason Moran, Miguel Zenón and Dave Holland have won 2015 JJA Jazz Awards for Musical Achievement from the Jazz Journalists Association. Other NEC affiliated winners include Regina Carter, who graduated from NEC in 1982 and is a member of the school’s Board of Visitors, and Mary Halvorson, who attended NEC Prep in 1998.
Dave Holland
Miguel Zenón
Jason Moran
Moran was selected as Musician of the Year, Zenón as Alto Saxophonist of the Year and Holland earned recognition in two categories: Record of the Year for his CD with Kenny Barron titled The Art of Conversation (Impulse!), and Trio or Duo of the Year for his duo with Kenny Barron.  Carter was chosen in the category of Violinist/Violist/Cellist of the Year and Halvorson is Guitarist of the Year.

Jazz Awards winners are determined through open nominations and direct voting by professional journalist members of the Jazz Journalists Associations.  Winners will be celebrated at a party June 16 at The Blue Note Jazz Club in New York City.  This is the 19th annual JJA Jazz Awards presentation.

NEC’s Jazz Studies Department was the first fully accredited jazz studies program at a music conservatory. The brainchild of Gunther Schuller, who moved quickly to incorporate jazz into the curriculum when he became President of the Conservatory in 1967, the Jazz Studies faculty has included six MacArthur "genius" grant recipients (three currently teaching) and four NEA Jazz Masters, and alumni that reads like a who’s who of jazz. Now in its 44th year, the program has spawned numerous Grammy winning composers and performers. As Mike West writes in JazzTimes: “NEC’s jazz studies department is among the most acclaimed and successful in the world; so says the roster of visionary artists that have comprised both its faculty and alumni.”  The program currently has 98 students; 54 undergraduate and 44 graduate students from 14 countries.

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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Joanne Tatham...out of my dreams

Year: 2015

Style: Jazz Vocal

Label: Cafe Pacific Records

Musicians: Joanne Tatham - vocals; Tamir Hendelman - piano; John Clayton - bass; Peter Erskine - drums; Marcel Camargo - guitar; Jamieson Trotter - piano; Lyman Medeiros - bass; Mike Shapiro - drums; Bob Sheppard - alto saxophone;

CD Review: Joanne Tatham sings with the crystal-clear, insistent zest of a nocturnal whip-poor-will, and the interpretive acumen of a tested balladeer. She confidently illuminates and advances America's original art form: Jazz. Tatham also reflects much of the aesthetic appeal that radiated from such iconic jazz vocalists as Lady Day and the First Lady of Song to Peggy Lee and Julie London.. On her new CD: Joanne Tatham - out of my dreams, she brings versatility, formidable 'chops' and a discerning eye for detail as she expertly blends color, mood and tempo with the awesome talents of a musical 'dream team'; and up jumps, an 'out of this world,' dazzling recording date.

Tatham's keen eye for detail and penchant for excellence are revealed in the peerless talent of her band mates; and the venerated composers she reads. On this date, she helps to uncork sizzling rhythmic brews utilizing two world-class rhythm sections; nothing is left to chance. Alternating on piano, are two contrasting masters; Tamir Hendelman, the award-winning, modern interpreter of the jazz standard; and the gritty, timeless Jamieson "Jamo" Trotter from the "University of the Street." Cementing essential structural integrity, are sublime bassists; John Clayton and Lyman Medeiros, while impeccable time keeping and forward propulsion become the province of irrepressible percussionists, Peter Erskine and Mike Shapiro; adding exotic rhythmic color from the 'Brazil you've never heard,' is guitarist Marcel Camargo. Immaculately fitted melody, harmony and spontaneous improvisation are served up by saxophonist Bob Sheppard in the style befitting a 'worldwide, multi-woodwind, performer, recording artist and jazz musician.'

With this coterie of talented professionals at her disposal, and a flawless vocal technique for added elevation, Tatham rockets through the opening track, McCoy Tyner & Sammy Cahn's (You Taught My Heart To Sing), with the high flying verve of a trapeze artist firmly tethered to the Getz-like melodic line "sound" and Turrentine-esque edgy, soulful confection flowing out of Bob Sheppard's saxophone; deploying profound depths of trust, and confidence which Taham brings naturally to her art; grist that energizes her graceful straddle of multiple music genres with stylistic authority; from the cutting edge jazz music of Tyner and Herbie Hancock; the Brazilian influence of the legendary Antonio Carlos Jobim; to the evocative show music of Rodgers & Hammerstein and Leonard Bernstein & Stephen Sondheim.

Tatham transforms the luxury of two working rhythm sections into an opportunity to showcase her artistic versatility, and imposing interpretive command of the lyric. She selects Grammy Award singer/songwriter Harry Nilsson's 1967 (Without Him) as the perfect vehicle to marry such a communion; exploring a tortured side of 60s classic rock; sensuously reprising Antonio Carlos Jobim's passionate (Vivo Sonhando); and working through the wonderment in Jon Lucien's breathtaking (You're Sensational); each song brilliantly authenticated by a 'Streets of LA' percussive junket, featuring pianist Jamieson Trotter, bassist Lyman Medeiros, drummer Mike Shapiro and guitarist Marcel Camargo.

Even after Tatham demystifies the story in the lyric, she drills further to suppressed levels of depths that reveal a song's natural emotional place: Herbie Hancock's (Double Life (Tell Me a Bedtime Story)) and (In a Lonely Place), Marilyn Harris & Mark Winkler's biting ode to the foibles of celebrity; each song succumbs to Tatham's indomitable search for artistic honesty and simplicity of expression: ornamenting these bracing emotive excursions are John Clayton's rounded, melodic bass figures, Tamir Hendleman's keyboard modernism, and the alternating rhythmic dynamism of drummers Peter Erskine and Mike Shapiro.

But behind Joanne Tatham's "quintessential big-city girl, wry, no-nonsense" persona, there silently lurks a pithy, musician's sense of humor, with a savvy for the well-timed punch line that surfaces in Dave Frishberg's off-the-floor, acerbic gem (Too Long in LA). Who else but a Joanne Tatham may work "Rush Limbaugh," "Xanax" and "deleted expletive" into the body of a lyric and make it all mordantly hip: hip enough that a witty canonization of blocked traffic arteries populating Los Angeles may well be the "sleeper" of the album.

Tatham nails everything in place though, with the title track: Rodgers & Hammerstein's (Out Of My Dreams) from the award-winning musical "Oklahoma"; evidence that there is much more musicianship, modernism and moxie to recommend "out of my dreams," as one of the most exhilarating jazz vocal CDs of 2015; from a singer whose songs breathe deeply; fully; and who takes the listener inside all the wonderful musical hangouts created within the 'spaces.'; a singer who understands that getting the best out of her dreams demands working with the most accomplished "Dream Team" that 'dreams' can conjure up.

Track Listing: You Taught My Heart To Sing; Without Him (Without Her); Devil May Care; Vivo Sonhando; Cool; Double Life (Tell Me a Bedtime Story); Detour Ahead; Too Long in LA; You're Sensational; In a Lonely Place; Out Of My Dreams.

Produced by Mark Winkler

Engineered and Mixed by Talley Sherwood at Tritone Recording Studio
Mastered by Ron Boustead

ESPN Scores & Stats.