Half Notes: Miguel Zenon – Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook (2011)

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You’ll have little difficulty in finding jazz recordings that seek to transform popular songs into standards. That’s been part and parcel of the tradition from the very beginning. More unusual, however, is someone like saxophonist Miguel Zenon, who so personalizes the shopworn idea on Alama Adentro. Each of the tunes on this forthcoming Marsalis Music release, due Aug. 30, was composed by important voices from his ancestral homeland of Puerto Rico, and many first reached him by way of his parent’s musical passions. Result: Something perhaps familiar, but like almost nothing else. In a time when the great works of Gershwin, Porter and Kern have been so well plundered, it’s intriguing to hear Zenon’s regular quartet – augmented by a 10-piece wind ensemble – explore a Great Latin American Songbook. A stand-out moment arrives early, as the once sweetly swaying bolero “Silencio,” composed by the late Rafael Hernandez, is transformed into a tense, pulsing exploration of color, sound and emotion.

‘Half Notes’ are quick-take thoughts on music from Something Else! Reviews, presented whenever the mood strikes us.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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