Miguel Zenon

Miguel Zenon


There is a keening sense of adventure in the young alto player's horn. He fills a typical solo with two are three simultaneous connotations -something luscious, something tart, something manic... THE VILLAGE VOICE


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,2008.

Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellow Miguel Zenon was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. There, he studied classical saxophone at the famed Escuela Libre de Musica. Although Zenon was exposed to jazz while in high school, it was not until he began his studies at the Berklee School of Music that his formal jazz training began. After graduating from Berklee, Zenon received a scholarship to attend Manhattan School of Music and in 2001, he received a Masters in Saxophone Performance. The distinguished list of educators he has studied with include: Angel Marrero, Leslie Lopez, Rafael Martinez, Danilo Perez, Dick Oatts, Dave Liebman, George Garzone and Bill Pierce.

In his relatively short, but rather illustrious career, Zenon has performed and/or recorded with a quite a diverse array of artists including: David Sanchez, Charlie Haden, The Village Vanguard Orchestra, Bobby Hutcherson, Bob Moses and Mozamba, The Either Orchestra, Guillermo Klein y Los Guachos, The Mingus Big Band, Jerry Gonzalez & The Fort Apache Band, Ray Barretto, and Steve Coleman, among others.

In 2004 Zenonwas asked to become one of the founding members of the SF Jazz Collective; an octet whose past and present members include Joshua Redman, Bobby Hutcherson, Nicholas Payton, Joe Lovano, Dave Douglas and Brian Blade. The members, who participate in a residency period where they workshop and rehearse new music, divide their time (roughly two months) between composing, performing and teaching. The SF Jazz Collective has toured in the US, Canada, Asia, and Europe and to date, have released five critically acclaimed live recordings, garnering them a spot in the Downbeat Critic�s Poll Rising Star Small Group category in both 2006 and 2007 � an honor which, coincidentally, they shared with Zenon's own quartet.

The Saxophonist and Composer has released four recordings as a Leader. His debut CD Looking Forward, was selected by the New York Times as the number one independent jazz record of 2002. In 2004, after being one of the first artists signed to Marsalis Music, he released the critically acclaimed Ceremonial. This same year also marked the beginning of three consecutive years on the top of the Downbeat Critic�s Poll in the Rising Star Alto Sax category. Zenon topped that category as well in 2008,making that the fourth time in the last five years. In 2005 Zen�n was honored by Billboard magazine as one of the �Faces to Watch-- 30 Under 30: Top Young Acts and Executives.� That year Zen�n also released Jibaro, a tribute to the "Musica Jibara" of Puerto Rico and commissioned by a grant from the New York State Council of the Arts. Like his previous recordings, Jibaro was uniformly well received and appeared on many top ten lists including The New York Times, Latin Beat, El Nueva Dia, and the Chicago Tribune. In 2006, the readers of Jazz Times Magazine voted him the Best New Artist of the Year. Awake, his fourth recording as a leader (and third for Marsalis Music) was released in April 2008.(Read Reviews).

In addition to touring extensively throughout the US and Europe and Latin America with his quartet, Zenon has made teaching a priority in his professional career. In 2003, as part of the Kennedy Center�s Jazz Ambassador�s Program, Zenon's quartet was selected to teach and perform throughout West Africa. Since then he as done master classes, clinics and/or residencies in such diverse institutions as the Banff Centre, University of Manitoba, LeMoyne College, UMASS-Amherst, the Brubeck Institute, Berklee College of Music, Conservatoire de Paris, Rotterdam Conservatory, Manhattan School of Music and the Diaz Institute. Zenon also serves as a private saxophone instructor at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York.

In April 2008 Zenon received a fellowship from the prestigious John Simon Guggenheim Foundation to work on his next project which focused on Plena Music from Puerto Rico. The recording, Esta Plena was nominated for two Grammy Awards. Later that year he was one of 25 distinguished individuals chosen to receive the coveted MacArthur Grant, also know as the "Genius Grant".

Miguel recently completed his newest recording, Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook. This latest project, that will be released in 2011, explores "standards" from some Puerto Rico's greatest composers. Alma Adentro features MIguel's quartet, a 10-piece ensemble and arrangements by Guillermo Klein.

For more about Miguel, please visit his Web site www.miguelzenon.com


As a Leader:
Miguel Zenon, Esta Plena (2009)
Miguel Zenon, Awake Marsalis Music ( 2008)
Miguel Zenon, Jibaro, Marsalis Music (2005)
Miguel Zenon, Ceremonial, Marsalis Music (2004)
Miguel Zenon, Looking Forward, Fresh Sound New Talent (2002)

As a Sideman:

Miles Okazaki, Generations, Sunnyside Records ( 2009)
Paolo Mejias, Jazzambla ( 2008)
SF Jazz Collective, Live 2008 5th Annual Concert Tour ( 2008)
Guillermo Klein, Filtros, Sunnyside Records (2008)
Hans Glawischnig, Panorama, Sunnyside Records ( 2008)
SF Jazz Collective Live 4th Annual Concert Tour, SF Jazz Records (2007)
The Jason Lindner Big Band Live at the Jazz Gallery, Ansic Records (2007)
Brian Lynch, Spheres of Influence Suite, Ewe Records (2006)
Miles Okazaki, Mirror (2006)
SF Jazz Collective Live 2006, SF Jazz Records (2006)
SF Jazz Collective 2, Nonesuch (2006)
Charlie Haden Liberation Music Orchestra, Not in Our Name (2005)
Charlie Haden, The Land of the Sun, Verve (2004)
SF Jazz Collective, Nonesuch (2005)
David Sanchez, Coral, Columbia (2004)
Luis Perdomo, Focus Point, RKM Records (2004)
Kendrick Oliver, Welcome to New Life, Sphere (2003)
The Jinga Quintet, A Day Gone By, Fresh Sound World Jazz (2003)
Hans Glawischnig, Common Ground, Fresh Sound New Talent (2003)
Ray Baretto, Homage to Art Blakey, Palmetto Records (2003)
Quite Sane, The Child of Trouble Times, Rykodisc (2002)
Edu Tancredi y el Bandon 33, Ongoing Dreams, Fresh Sound New Talent (2002)
Guillermo Klein, Los Guachos 3, Sunnyside (2002)
Mika Pohjola, Landmark, Abovoize (2002)
Sebastian Weiss, Momentum, Fresh Sound New Talent (2001)
William Cepeda, Branching Out, Blue Jackel Entertainment (2001)
Mango Blue, Immigrant Blues, Axent Music (2001)
David Sanchez, Travesia, Columbia (2000)
Greg Tardy, Abundance, Palmetto Jazz (2001)
Stephan Crump, Tuckahoe, Accurate (2001)
David Sanchez, Melaza, Columbia (2001)
Either/Orchestra, More Beautiful Than Death, Accurate (2000)
Gilson Schachnik, Raw, Brownstone (2000)
Gabriel Rodriguez, Beginning, Pina Music (1999)
Edu Tancredi & Bandon 33, Latin Spell, Brownstone (1998)

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