Multiple Grammy Nominee and Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellow Miguel Zenón represents 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 and composers of his generation, he has also developed a unique voice as a conceptualist, concentrating his efforts on perfecting a fine mix between jazz and his many musical influences.
Born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Zenón has released fifteen recordings as a leader, including the Grammy-nominated Música De Las Américas (2022), El Arte Del Bolero (2021) and Sonero: The Music of Ismael Rivera (2019) and Yo Soy La Tradición (2018). He has worked with luminaries such as The SFJAZZ Collective, Charlie Haden, Fred Hersch, Kenny Werner, David Sánchez, Danilo Perez, The Village Vanguard Orchestra, Kurt Elling, Joey Calderazzo, Steve Coleman, Ray Barreto, Andy Montañez, Jerry Gonzalez & The Fort Apache Band, The Mingus Big Band and Bobby Hutcherson.
Zenón has been featured in publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe and The Chicago Tribune. In addition, he topped both the Jazz Artist of the Year and Alto Saxophonist of the Year categories in the 2014 JazzTimes Critics Poll and was selected as Alto Saxophonist of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association in 2015, 2018, 2019 and 2020 (when he was also recognized as Arranger of the Year). In 2023 he was recognized by the same organization as the Composer of the Year.
As a composer he has been commissioned by SFJAZZ, NYO Jazz, The New York State Council on the Arts, Chamber Music America, Logan Center for The Arts, The Hyde Park Jazz Festival, The John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, MIT, Spektral Quartet, Miller Theater, The Hewlett Foundation, Peak Performances, PRISM Quartet and many of his peers. Zenón has given hundreds of lectures and master classes at institutions all over the world and is a faculty member in the Music & Theater Arts Department at MIT, as well as the current Visiting Scholar for the Harmony and Jazz Composition Department at Berklee College of Music.
In April 2008 Zenón received a fellowship from the prestigious John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. Later that year he was one of 25 distinguished individuals chosen to receive the coveted MacArthur Fellowship, also known as the “Genius Grant.” In 2011 he founded Caravana Cultural, a program which presents free-of-charge Jazz concerts in rural areas of Puerto Rico. In 2022 he received an Honorary Doctorate from La Universidad del Sagrado Corazón in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the highest honor bestowed by the institution.
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