Miguel Zenón Quartet to ponder the Americas Oct. 11 at Recital Hall

Free related presentation explores a jazz response to Puerto Rican identity


Prolific Puerto Rican jazz saxophonist Miguel Zenón and his quartet will explore “Música de las Américas” in their Penn State debut at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 11, in Recital Hall.

Tickets for the concert—$25 for an adult, $5 for a University Park student, and $15 for a person 18 and younger—are available for purchase online. Tickets are also available by phone at 814-863-0255 or in person, weekdays from 10 a.m.–4 p.m., at Eisenhower Auditorium. Visit Miguel Zenón online for more information about the performance and a free related engagement event.

Songs from “Música de Las Américas” grew out of Zenón’s passion for the history of the American continent. The resulting album pays tribute to its diverse cultures while also challenging modern assumptions about who and what “America” is.

“This music is inspired by the history of the American continent: not only before European colonization, but also by what’s happened since—cause and effect,” Zenón said of the collection, released on disc in March.

While Zenón pondered the message, jazz critics praised the alto saxophonist’s techniques.

“The saxophonist has the slithery facility of a bebopper, but I also hear something of the forthright stance of Coltrane in his playing, despite the rhythmic complexity of his writing — and his distinctively varied use of his Puerto Rican background,” wrote a reporter for ArtFuse.org.

“His quartet has evolved to a peak of perfect interplay and cohesive elocution, and the additional percussionists and the low-in-the-mix vocals on two tracks add an element of exaltation,” wrote a reporter for AllAboutJazz.com. “This is Miguel Zenon’s finest recording to date.”

Watch a video featuring music from “Música de las Américas.”

Related engagement event

Zenón will discuss his previous jazz project, “Identities are Changeable,” with a free, public presentation at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 11, in 128 Music Building.

The project documented Zenón as he interviewed fellow Puerto Rican transplants to New York. The conversations, surrounding ethnic and national identities, inspired his compositions on the 2014 album of the same name.

The event is free, but registration is required. Go to the registration form online. A moderated question-and-answer session will follow the presentation.


The events are presented in collaboration with the Penn State Hispanic Heritage Month Committee.

Thank you to the Penn State School of Music for hosting the concert.

A grant from the University Park Student Fee Board makes Penn State student prices possible.

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