Miguel Zenón – Law Years: The Music of Ornette Coleman – Miel Music

by | Apr 26, 2021 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Miguel Zenón – Law Years: The Music of Ornette Coleman – [TrackList follows] – Miel Music, 58:10 [3/12/21] ****:

(Miguel Zenón – alto saxophone; Ariel Bringuez – tenor saxophone; Demian Cabaud – bass; Jorge ‘Jordi’ Rossy – drums)

Ornette Coleman’s spirit looms large on alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón’s nearly hour-long, digital-only release, Law Years: The Music of Ornette Coleman. Zenón and his band put their intuitive interpretive impulses to seven older Coleman tracks which date from 1959 to 1972. The two-horn lineup by Puerto Rican Zenón (who lives in New York City) and Cuban tenor saxophonist Ariel Bringuez (who now calls Spain home) furnish the harmonic freedom which fuels Coleman’s compositions and performance, alongside a rhythmic foundation strengthened by Argentinian bassist Demian Cabaud (who resides in Portugal and has worked with Lee Konitz, Joe Lovano, Jason Moran and many others) and Spanish drummer Jorge ‘Jordi’ Rossy (he has toured and/or recorded with Woody Shaw, Kenny Wheeler, Paquito D’Rivera, and others).

Law Years was taped in front of an audience at The Bird’s Eye Jazz Club in Basel, Switzerland on May 28th, 2019. The inherent spontaneity of the live presentation adds to the music’s immediacy and impact, and also that the musicians (who all have previous Zenón connections) had not hitherto played together in this specific formation. Zenón states in his album’s liner notes, “We were all just having fun, inspired by the energy from the crowd and the special feel of the occasion. And Ornette’s music proved to be the perfect platform for this kind of engagement: the kind of music that opens the door to endless possibilities for interaction and pushes you to hit the ground running.” That distinctiveness is apparent on the 10:29 opener, “The Tribes of New York” (the title track from an Ornette Coleman Quartet 1960 LP). The doubled horn parts are captivating as Zenón and Bringuez harmonize, play collectively, and offer both uniform and contrasting lines or phrases. During “The Tribes of New York” there is also space for the rhythm section to show its skills and obvious articulation. Cabaud, for example, provides a refined solo near the piece’s conclusion.

One key aspect to Coleman’s enduring legacy is the balance of improvisational independence together with structured and coordinated melody. A prime illustration of how picturesque, informed melodic shapes can become catalysts for creativeness is the lengthiest track, the 11-minute “Law Years” (from Coleman’s 1972 LP Science Fiction). The alto and tenor saxes intermingle, then go on separate solo excursions; Cabaud acts as a rhythmic base but also supplies wonderful solo moments; and Rossy delivers rousing percussive inventiveness near the ending. The animated 10:35 “Giggin’,” from Coleman’s 1959 LP Tomorrow Is the Question!, is another featured number where the harmonic elements are unrestrained. Throughout “Giggin’” there are ample affirmations of Coleman’s direct influence; the quartet demonstrates they aren’t out to imitate Coleman. Rather they echo Coleman’s conceptual framework while presenting objective differences. The foursome also do renditions of “Free,” from Coleman’s 1960 LP Change of the Century, the somewhat somber “Broken Shadows” (from either 1971 or 1972 but not issued until 1982) and the upbeat “Dee Dee,” from volume one of the live 1966 Ornette Coleman Trio album, “At the ‘Golden Circle’ Stockholm.” The band wraps up their concert with the ten-minute, two-tune medley, “Toy Dance/ Street Woman,” which showcases the rhythmic section’s elasticity and central pulse. Rossy takes a short solo spot around the four-minute mark, followed by a superb Cabaud solo. Also, the paired saxes ascend in this situation with some of the best sax interplay you’ll hear all year. Law Years: The Music of Ornette Coleman is partially a celebration, equally a confirmation, and fully a resplendent display of jazz mastery.

The Tribes of New York
Law Years
Broken Shadows
Dee Dee
Toy Dance/ Street Woman

—Doug Simpson

For more information, please visit the website for Miguel Zenón:

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