On March 12, 2021, alto saxophone icon Miguel Zenón will commemorate Ornette Coleman’s 91st birthday (March 9) with the release of Law Years: The Music of Ornette Coleman.
Recorded in May 2019 after a residency at Bird’s Eye Jazz Club in Basel, Switzerland, the album features Zenón with an international quartet: tenor saxophonist Ariel Bringuez, bassist Demian Cabaud, and drummer Jordi Rossy.
Though the musicians have previous connections with Zenón, they never played together in this particular configuration, the performances display remarkable synergy and intensity.
Playing a concert of exclusively Ornette Coleman music proved to be magical, exciting, and more bittersweet than the quartet knew. Each member of the quartet is a jazz master in their own right, and their expertise is clear to see in these live performances.
Coleman has long been one of Zenón’s musical heroes. The first time he heard Ornette’s music, Zenón was a teenager still living in Puerto Rico.
“I just kind of stood there, mesmerized and in shock, trying to figure it out,” he says. “It was entirely different than anything I had heard before. There is freedom there, and lots of it. But there’s also a deep sense of cohesiveness and structure. And, above all, melody: beautiful and inspired melodic lines that serve as springboards for everyone involved.”
Later, Zenón was fortunate enough to meet Ornette. He remembers their interactions fondly. “He was always nice and supportive,” says Zenón.
“Our interactions went pretty much the same way every time. Me: ‘Mr. Coleman, I’m not sure if you remember me – my name is Miguel, and I’m an alto saxophonist and one of your biggest fans.’ Ornette: ‘Nice to see you, Miguel. Have you ever thought about what would happen if you played A and Eb at the same time?’.”
“As I listen to the music,” says Zenón, “it almost feels like a different time. A time when we weren’t afraid to be close to each other. A time when we could still play in a packed room, with the audience right in front of us, and just feed off their energy. A time that will come back soon enough. And when it does, we’ll be ready to do it all over again.”
A special aspect of the quartet is that each member hails from a different part of the world. “I’m Puerto Rican, Ariel is Cuban, Demian is Argentinian, and Jordi is Catalan,” says Zenón.
“The fact that we are all from different parts of the globe and all Spanish speakers raises another important point: Jazz music knows no boundaries or labels; it is as inclusive now as it has ever been.”
The release will be available digitally on March 12, 2021.