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Miguel Zenon & Rhythm Collective 

When: Thu., Sept. 19, 8 & 10 p.m., Fri., Sept. 20, 8 & 10 p.m., Sat., Sept. 21, 8 & 10 p.m. and Sun., Sept. 22, 4, 8 & 10 p.m. 2013
Price: $20-$25, $45 for VIP
For much of the past decade, alto saxophonist and 2008 MacArthur fellow Miguel Zenon has used a series of quartets to experiment formally with traditional and popular music from his homeland of Puerto Rico: jibaro, plena, and (with the 2011 album Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook) romantic ballads and salsa burners. This spring Zenon released Oye!!! Live in Puerto Rico (Miel Music), recorded in San Juan in January 2011 with a band formed eight years earlier to undertake a State Department tour of western Africa; Zenon has kept the group intact since then, but it’s existed in the shadow of his regular New York band, a relatively conventional jazz group with drummer Henry Cole, pianist Luis Perdomo, and bassist Hans Glawischnig. The lineup on Oye!!!—drummer Tony Escapa, electric bassist Aldemar Valentin, and hand percussionist Reynaldo De Jesus—delivers a thrilling counterpoint to Zenon’s regular quartet, focusing squarely on hard-hitting Afro-Caribbean polyrhythms. And because it doesn’t burden Zenon with the harmonic limitations imposed by a chordal instrument, he can really let rip—he does some of the fieriest, most unfettered blowing I’ve ever heard from him. He composed most of the material on the album, but he illustrates the group’s raison d’etre at least as well with this elastic treatments of the Tito Puente standard “Oye Como Va” (famously covered by Carlos Santana) and a lyrical Silvio Rodriguez trova called “El Necio”—the songs’ melodic shapes act like colorful cloths to be stretched over modular rhythmic armatures. —Peter Margasak

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