In awarding alto saxophonist MIGUEL ZENÓN the “Genius” grant in 2008, the MacArthur Foundation wrote, “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.” Multiple Grammy Nominee and Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellow Miguel Zenón is widely considered one of the most groundbreaking and influential saxophonists of his generation. His debut CD, Looking Forward, was selected by the NYTimes as the #1 “alternative” jazz recording of 2002, and his latest recording, Alma Adentro, a tribute to The Puerto Rican Songbook, was chosen as the Best Jazz Recording of 2011 by iTunes and NPR, and nominated for a 2012 Grammy Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album. He has also been featured in publications from The New York Times to The Wall Street Journal, from Jazz Times, to Billboard, and Newsday; he has graced the covers of Downbeat Magazine and the Swiss jazz magazine, Jazz N More; and he has also topped the Rising Star Alto Sax category of the Downbeat Critic’s Poll on four different occasions.
Born and reared in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Miguel studied classical saxophone in Puerto Rico before receiving degrees from Berklee College of Music and the Manhattan School of Music. A founding member of the groundbreaking SFJAZZ Collective, Miguel becomes one of its resident artistic directors this year. Adding to his work as saxophonist, composer, arranger, and artistic director, Miguel is an educator who has taught and performed in West Africa and has given hundreds of lectures and master classes all over the world at institutions from The Banff Centre, University of Manitoba, the Conservatorium Van Amsterdam and Conservatoire de Paris, to his alma maters. He is also a permanent faculty member at New England Conservatory of Music. What best reflects his commitment to education and cements his growing reputation as a “cultural ambassador” is Caravana Cultural, a program he founded last year to present free jazz concerts in rural areas of Puerto Rico by some of the best musicians in the New York jazz scene performing as guests.
Miguel will give a solo performance in the majestic Rockefeller Chapel.
Watch Miguel Zenon’s 2011 performance in Caravana Cultural’s Tribute to Charlie Parker:
*Please note: Video samples do not necessarily represent HPJF lineup.