A few years ago, amid the pandemic, alto saxophonist and MacArthur Fellow Miguel Zenón and acclaimed pianist Luis Perdomo played a few of their favorite tunes during an impromptu duo session. The results were spectacular, and they decided to release the music as an album that earned wide critical acclaim, including a place as the #1 Latin Jazz Recording of the Year in the 2021 Jazz Critics Poll. The follow-up to that recording, El Arte Del Bolero Vol. 2, is slated for digital release via Miel Music on AUGUST 25, 2023.
The title references the beauty of the Latin-American Songbook and the Bolero in particular. The new album expands on the initial concept while maintaining the intent of playing songs the artists know and love. The process of choosing the repertoire began with the question, “Tu sabes que canción es bien buena?” (“You know which song is really good?”). Discussions about which versions to study, which keys to use, and which arrangements were the most inspirational followed.
Melding their jazz sensibilities with the original spirit of the music, Zenón and Perdomo deliver alluring, forward-thinking performances while keeping the songs center stage. “The Latin-American Songbook is so vast and varied that it naturally lends itself to limitless explorations,” says Zenón in the liner notes. “We purposely looked beyond the Caribbean (exploring composers from México, Venezuela, and Panamá, for example) to emphasize that these songs deserved to be explored and recognized for what they are, beyond labels, categories, and regionalisms. Just beautiful music that is a joy to perform and listen to.”
ABOUT THE MUSIC
En La Oscuridad: From the songbook of the great Tito Rodríguez, this song features a unique melody/harmony combo that is always fun to play on. I personally discovered this song while still a very young music student in Puerto Rico, on the album A Dos Tiempos de Un Tiempo, a wonderful Tito Rodríguez tribute by Gilberto Santa Rosa.
Paula C: A modern classic by the great Rubén Blades, first recorded on the 1978 album Louie Ramírez y sus Amigos. The original is faster and more dance-oriented, so we slowed it down and expanded on the form a bit. It ended up providing the perfect platform for improvisation and musical conversation.
En La Soledad: Another beautiful song from the Tito Rodríguez songbook. We play it here entirely out of time, extending the melodic phrases and harmonic flow. After some collective free-improv over various pedal points, we return to the theme before closing out the piece.
Motivos: This one was suggested by Luis, a gorgeous melody that he grew up listening to in his native Venezuela. There are many wonderful versions of this song to explore, my personal favorite coming from La Rondalla Venezolana.
Caballo Viejo: A timeless piece of music covered extensively by various artists spanning a wide range of musical genres. Master songwriter Simón Díaz wrote perhaps the most widely recognized Venezuelan composer of his time. Towards this version’s tail end, we introduce elements from the outro to Keith Jarrett’s take on “Moon and Sand,” a piece we both know and love.
Mucho Corazón: Written by Eva Elena Valdelamar, the great Mexican songwriter who penned this when she was still a teenager. We used Benny Moré’s version as one of our main sources of inspiration. We experimented with the harmonic progression at different points within the form.
Silencio: An amazing piece of music from the creative mind of Puerto Rican legend Rafael Hernández. We recorded this piece with a larger ensemble on the 2012 album Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook and decided to revisit it here. Our version uses the triplet as its primary source of rhythmic information, and it’s perhaps the most intricate arrangement of all the songs on this album. It is truly a beautiful piece of music and felt like the perfect way to close out the record.
About Miguel Zenón
A 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, Zenón has also developed a unique voice as a composer and as a conceptualist, concentrating his efforts on perfecting a fine mix between Jazz and his many influences. Born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Zenón has recorded and toured with a wide variety of musicians including Charlie Haden, Fred Hersch, David Sánchez, Danilo Pérez, Kenny Werner, Bobby Hutcherson and The SFJAZZ Collective.
About Luis Perdomo
Originally from Venezuela, Grammy® nominated pianist, composer, arranger and educator Luis Perdomo moved to NYC in the early 90s and has since established himself as one of the most in-demand musicians on the scene. He has recorded and/or performed with Ravi Coltrane, David Sanchez, Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band, Tom Harrell, John Patitucci, Ray Barretto, Brian Lynch, Robin Eubanks, Dave Douglas, David Weiss and The Cookers, David Gilmore, Ralph Irizarry & Timbalaye, Henry Threadgill and Steve Turre. He has collaborated with Miguel Zenón for 20 years. Perdomo has performed at festivals and venues in over 50 countries and has released nine recordings as a leader. He has also appeared on over 200 recordings as a sideman including, most recently, two Grammy nominated albums: Ravi Coltrane’s Spirit Fiction and Miguel Zenón’s Sonero. In 2002 he earned the 2ndGrand Prix at the 3rd Martial Solal Jazz Piano Competition in Paris.
El Arte Del Bolero Vol. 2 is available on all digital platforms including Miguel’s Bandcamp page.