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Interview with Miguel Zenon

Celebrity Series of Boston will present the Miguel Zenón Quartet, performing in a double bill with the Vijay Iyer Trio on Friday, December 9, 2011, at 8pm at the Berklee Performance Center, 136 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston.

Saxophonist Miguel Zenón was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. There, he studied classical saxophone at the Escuela Libre de Musica. When he enrolled at the Berklee School of Music, his formal jazz training began. After graduating from Berklee, Zenón received a scholarship to attend Manhattan School of Music, and in 2001, he received a Masters in Saxophone Performance. He also tours throughout the US, Europe and Latin America with his quartet, and in 2003, as part of the Kennedy CenterÂ's Jazz AmbassadorÂ's Program, ZenónÂ's quartet was selected to teach and perform throughout West Africa. Zenón also serves as a private saxophone instructor at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York. TuBoston interviewed the musician before his concert

-Miguel, how does it feel every time you come back to Boston? You have close ties with this city Â...

-ItÂ's always great to be in Boston. The city has a special place in my heart because I moved there straight out of Puerto Rico at 19 to go to college... so not only it was my first experience in the United States, but also a crash course into being an independent person. I learned a lot from my experience in the city and always get a certain feeling of nostalgia when I visit. I've been going back more often during the last 2 years or so, because I've been doing some teaching at the New England Conservatory.

-What do you have prepared for the double bill with the Vijay Iyer next Friday, December 9 in Boston? For the audiences who will go to one of your concerts for the first time, what can they expect?

-For the past few years we've been working on ways of incorporating the music and folklore of Puerto Rico into a true jazz context, so the music we'll be playing at the concert will follow that same idea. It will all be music from our latest project, which is called "Alma Adentro" (2011) and is a tribute to the Puerto Rican songbook.

-What is/are your current project/s? And what are you planning for the rest of the year?

-"Alma Adentro" is our latest project, and I'm currently working on a commission from Montclair University for February 2012. This music will all be inspired on the Puerto Rican experience in the United States, specifically in New York City (AKA. Nuyoricans), and it revolves around a series of interviews that I conducted with New Yorkers of Puerto Rican descent. The working title is "Puerto Rico Nació en mí: Tales from the diaspora".

-You have accomplished many things in your field and you are still a young musician. All this accomplishments make you work harder and challenge yourself to accomplish more?

-Accomplishments are relative, but I do believe that whatever I achieve is precisely because of hard work, so I'll keep approaching things the same way.

Tickets for the concert are $50, $44 and $40 and are available online at www.celebrityseries.org, or by calling CelebrityCharge at (617) 482-6661. Tickets are also available at the Berklee Performance Center box office, 136 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston.