Monday, March 6, 2017

Miguel Zenon Quartet at Bach Dancing

Miguel and his longstanding quartet played a gig at Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society near Half Moon Bay yesterday. It's a venerable spot for live jazz, an intimate wood-paneled venue overlooking the Pacific, with views out to Mavericks, and a fiery sunset over the breakers.

As I have blogged before, Miguel is one of the best saxophonists and composers in jazz right now, and his working band is exceptional. The compositions, all from their new album, Típico, are tightly wound, with flavors from his native Puerto Rico... though nobody would be tempted to get up and dance to this stuff, except maybe a heptapod. However talented the musicians, this is not music you pull off in a jam session, and the quartet's many years together pay off. Even during extended solos, the players are listening and interacting: endless rehearsals, or just mind-meld?

Speaking of aliens, Henry Cole is one of those otherworldly modern jazz drummers who keeps perfect time in about three or four time signatures simultaneously and manages to add rim shots, rolls, and cymbal coloration in conversation with the soloists, but never obtrusively. He listens intently: you can see his eyes laser-beamed across the stage at the pianist, Luis Perdomo. Cole's solo closing the first half was the highlight of the show. Where's the beat? Nothing his hands are doing corresponds to any identifiable pulse. But it's there all right: your toes are tapping along.

I couldn't really ask for anything more from an afternoon of jazz, but I'll try anyway. Miguel, play more ballads. Nobody does it better.

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