I've got room for it here, though.
The Rhythm Collective release Oye!!! Live in Puerto Rico is best viewed as part of a quartet of releases that move back and forth between the music of Zenón's home on the island and the cutting edge creativity of a forward-thinking jazz musician. Jibaro, Esta Plena, Alma Adentro and Oye!!! all, to some degree, place Afro-Caribbean traditions in a jazz context. It's not precisely Latin jazz, as there are no obvious signifiers and absolutely no fallback on standard rhythms and motifs. Instead, Zenón digs deep into the essence of these two African derived musics to get at an essential commonality.
Caravana Cultura initiative.
|photo courtesy New York Times|
2012 also saw the release of Rayuela, a collaboration with French pianist Laurent Coq based on an acknowledged literary masterpiece by Argentinian writer Julio Cortázar. The experimental novel takes place in Paris and Buenos Aires and is at least partly a meditation on a trans-global life. When Zenón and Coq began their collaboration, it was quickly decided that Zenón, a Latin American, would write music for the Paris chapters, leaving the French pianist to explore Buenos Aires. They chose unusual instrumentation, namely cello, trombone and tablas to fill out the sound. In a way, Rayuela continues Zenón's exploration of multiple identities as it tackles the work of a writer who split his time between French speaking Europe and South America. Enlisting the help of a French musician working in a distinctly American art form adds additional layers of complexity, with echoes of the lives of the many black jazz musicians who flocked to Paris in the 1940s and 50s.
There are many supremely talented musicians working in jazz, but I'm hard pressed to name another that conceptualizes on such a grand scale, that uses his musical gift to continually explore ideas and ask questions that go beyond music to larger subjects.
I'd say the MacArthur Foundation has invested well, wouldn't you?