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Awake by Miguel Zenon

This album finds rising jazz star and saxophonist Miguel Zenon delving into third stream arenas with his augmentation of the base quartet by adding a strings quartet on two pieces and then a three-man horn section on one track. It’s a kaleidoscopic progressive-jazz endeavor and arguably, his most ambitious solo effort to date.

Zenon’s maturation process takes a big leap here, where his sweet-toned and pungent alto sax lines loom as the prevalent factor due to these largely, fast-paced compositions, spiced with sinuous time signatures. Nonetheless, the saxophonist leads a circuitous journey amid fluctuating ebbs and flows, often-accelerated by his rippling flurries. The band abides by a dynamic impetus, where Zenon and keyboardist Luis Perdomo occasionally blurt out yearning choruses.

The piece titled "Awakening - Interlude," signifies a high-impact diversion, as the horns section embarks upon a tumultuous, free-form string of choruses. Otherwise, Zenon uses the strings section for a textural underscore atop the full-throttle sequences and more tender moments. Zenon’s compositions are rock solid, as they say. His penchant for generating knotty time signatures and multidirectional flows are steeped within modernism, while incorporating the Latin-jazz element in spots. More importantly, Zenon’s music is hip and refreshing, which are attributes that are not always conducive within a good portion of these complex navigations of the jazz idiom.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Miguel Zenon
  • CD Title: Awake
  • Genre: Progressive
  • Year Released: 2008
  • Record Label: Marsalis Records
  • Rating: Four Stars
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