Saxophonist-composer Miguel Zenón will release Yo Soy la Tradición on September 21 via Miel Music. The new album is an ambitious concert-length work for string quartet and saxophone that draws inspiration upon the rich cultural-folkloric traditions of Puerto Rico, expressed through the modernist lens of Zenón’s compositions.
Listen to the premiere for “Promesa” from Yo Soy la Tradición via the player below:
Yo Soy la Tradición, commissioned by the David and Reva Logan Center for the Arts and the Hyde Park Jazz Festival, is an hour-long suite that finds common ground between the traditions of jazz, classical and folk music while elevating and extending the cultural heritage of Puerto Rico. The album collects eight chamber works taking both creative inspiration and formal patterning from Zenón’s native Puerto Rico’s cultural, religious and musical tradition, featuring Zenón and the Chicago-based and internationally renowned Spektral Quartet.
“Promesa,” the longest piece in the suite, draws inspiration from the religious practice of La Promesa – making a promise to a Catholic deity in return for a favor – and specifically alludes to La Promesa de Reyes, in reference to the celebration of the Three Kings, the Biblical Magi who visited Jesus Christ after his birth, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The composition begins with a haunting, accompanied statement in the cello and cycles through repetitions of varied melodic elements whose even, steady elaboration reveals the patience underlying Zenón’s cinematic sense of pacing.Zenón explains via a press release that his goal “is to identify the elements that make each tradition unique. If these elements are musical in nature, I’ll extract them and use them as the main secret for a new piece of music – not trying to emulate the original, but using the original source as inspiration … Puerto Rican music is an integral part of who I am and my ultimate goal as an artist would be to synthesize and express everything it means to me.”
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