Miguel Zenón And Dafnis Prieto On JazzSet Saxophonist Miguel Zenón (from Puerto Rico) and drummer Dafnis Prieto (from Cuba) have both resettled in the U.S., and are reworking the music of their islands in studios and on bandstands worldwide.

JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater

Miguel Zenón And Dafnis Prieto On JazzSetWBGO

Miguel Zenón And Dafnis Prieto On JazzSet

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/166674367/205407510" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

In 2008 and 2011, respectively, Miguel Zenón and Dafnis Prieto received MacArthur Fellowships — known as "Genius Grants" — from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. They were cited for their achievements in expanding boundaries and combining vocabularies. And you can hear them in action from Newport on JazzSet.

First, Zenón and co-composer Laurent Coq lead a quartet in music from their new suite Rayuela (in English: hopscotch). It's named for the 1966 novel by Julio Cortázar. The author is fascinating himself: He was born in Brussels in 1914 and raised in Argentina; he then worked in Paris as a translator for UNESCO, wrote literature and played trumpet. He died in 1984.

Miguel Zenón loves every page in Cortázar's imaginative, stream-of-consciousness book (which the novelist suggested could be read from front to back or by hopscotching through the chapters). The movements in the musical suite are for various characters and locations, and we hopscotch through three. The complete Rayuela suite is on the new album from the Sunnyside label.

Around the turn of the century, Dafnis Prieto "came over from Cuba and promptly placed every rhythm section in New York City on notice," writes Patrick Jarenwattananon of NPR Music. The drummer's rhythmic embrace is global: In 2011, he taught and studied for six weeks at the Swarnabhoomy Academy of Music near Chennai in India. His drumming is high-energy, sunny and polyrhythmic, yet there's more than rhythm in his writing for this ensemble. The three-horn harmony and lines provide some of the greatest listening pleasures.

With funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (Doris Duke herself liked to go to Newport), the 2012 edition of the Newport Jazz Festival commissioned Prieto to compose "Two for One." Before and after the commission, the band plays from his album Taking the Soul for a Walk on Dafnison Music.

Zenón Set List

  • "Talita"
  • "Traveler"
  • "El Club de la Serpiente"

All music by Coq and Zenón.

Zenón Personnel

  • Miguel Zenón, alto saxophone
  • Laurent Coq, piano
  • Dana Leong, cello and trombone
  • Dan Weiss, percussion and tablas

Prieto Set List

  • "The Sooner the Better"
  • "Two for One"
  • "Until the Last Minute"

All music by Prieto.

Prieto Personnel

  • Dafnis Prieto, drums
  • Ralph Alessi, trumpet
  • Felipe Lamoglia, alto saxophone
  • Peter Apfelbaum, tenor sax and melodica
  • Manuel Valera, piano
  • Yunior Terry, bass

Credits

Recording Engineers: Antonio Oliart and David Tallacksen with Michael Downes; Assistant Surround Sound mixes by Antonio Oliart and Duke Markos.

[+] read more[-] less

More From Jazz

Grover Washington Jr. performs on stage during the "One Night With Blue Note" concert in New York on Feb. 22, 1985. Anthony Barboza/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Anthony Barboza/Getty Images

How Grover Washington Jr. Defined And Transcended 'Smooth Jazz'

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

In this radio episode, Jazz Night in America takes you to a tribute concert honoring the late musician, whose soulful sound was more than just "smooth."

How Grover Washington Jr. Defined And Transcended 'Smooth Jazz'

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/564442111/564555947" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Gurtman and Murtha Artist Management

Ruth Laredo On Piano Jazz

Hear "America's First Lady of the Piano" explore the boundaries between classical music and jazz with host Marian McPartland in this 2004 episode.

Ruth Laredo On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/562620476/562624249" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Jimmy Greene. Jimmy Katz/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Jimmy Katz/Courtesy of the artist

Jimmy Greene Remembers A 'Beautiful Life'

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

The saxophonist's 2014 album was dedicated to the memory of his 6-year-old daughter, killed in the 2012 mass shooting in Newtown, Conn. Hear his quartet perform the genre-spanning music in concert.

Jimmy Greene's 'Beautiful Life'

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/418925379/418929187" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Teri Thornton, photographed on Jan. 1, 1990. Andrew Lepley/Redferns/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Andrew Lepley/Redferns/Getty Images

Teri Thornton On Piano Jazz

Revisit this 1999 episode of Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz, featuring the late vocalist and pianist a year before she lost her battle with cancer.

Teri Thornton On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/561711244/561802316" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Frank Stewart

Louis Hayes Celebrates His 80th Birthday In A Packed Jazz Club

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

Jazz Night in America takes you to Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, where the hard-bop drummer celebrated his debut as a band leader and talked about fond memories and favorite sessions.

Louis Hayes Celebrates His 80th Birthday In A Packed Jazz Club

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/561069637/561555776" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

The Nate Smith Band performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Sept. 14, 2017. (Christina Ascani/NPR) Christina Ascani/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Christina Ascani/NPR

Review

Tiny Desk

Nate Smith + KINFOLK

The drums take center stage at this Tiny Desk. Watch veteran jazz percussionist Nate Smith dazzle the NPR audience in a transfixing performance.

Japanese jazz pianist Makoto Ozone at an album photo shoot on February 1, 1986 in New York City. Waring Abbott/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Waring Abbott/Getty Images

Makoto Ozone On Piano Jazz

Revisit the pianist's first appearance on Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz, back when he was still a rising star in 1984.

Makoto Ozone On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/560367691/560368003" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Back To Top