MIT Music and Theater Arts Assistant Professor Miguel Zenón has won a Grammy for Best Latin Jazz Album for his work on “El Arte Del Bolero Vol. 2.” Zenón recorded the album with Luis Perdomo, a follow-up to their critically-acclaimed “El Arte Del Bolero Vol. 1.”
“I’m incredibly happy and honored with this Grammy win,” says Zenón, a 12-time Grammy nominee. “We’ve been making albums for a long time, so it’s extremely rewarding to earn this recognition. This will certainly be an incentive to keep moving forward and creating more music.”
The album’s title references the beauty of the Latin-American Songbook and the Bolero in particular.
“The Latin-American Songbook is so vast and varied that it naturally lends itself to limitless explorations,” says Zenón in the album’s liner notes. “We purposely looked beyond the Caribbean (exploring composers from México, Venezuela and Panamá, for example) because we wanted to emphasize the point that these songs deserved to be explored and recognized for what they are, beyond labels, categories, and regionalisms. Just beautiful music that is a joy to perform and listen to.”
Critics lauded the album, naming it the top Latin Jazz recording of 2023 in the Jazz Critics Poll.
“In an extraordinary follow-up to ‘El Arte Del Bolero Vol. 1,’ these timeless tunes are slowed down, blended with unusual elements, played out of time, deconstructed and reconstructed as Zenón and Perdomo extract nuances from the originals that we hardly imagined could exist,” said critic Catalina Maria Johnson.
Born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Zenón has recorded and toured with a wide variety of musicians including Charlie Haden, Fred Hersch, David Sánchez, Danilo Pérez, Kenny Werner, Bobby Hutcherson, and The SFJAZZ Collective.
A renowned saxophonist, Zenón joined the MIT faculty in 2023 as an assistant professor of jazz. He is also the current visiting scholar for the Harmony and Jazz Composition Department at Berklee College of Music.
In 2008, Zenón received a fellowship from the prestigious John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. Also that year, he received the coveted MacArthur Fellowship, also known as the “genius grant.”
In 2011, Zenón founded Caravana Cultural, a program that presents free-of-charge Jazz concerts in rural areas of Puerto Rico. In 2022, he also received an honorary doctorate from La Universidad del Sagrado Corazón in San Juan, the highest honor bestowed by the institution.