Identities Are Changeable
February 22, 2013
Tales from the Diaspora
with Miguel Zenón Quartet
and NEC Jazz Orchestra
“…deep cross-media collaboration … drama and momentum … an event”
—Ben Ratliff, New York Times
“This young musician and composer is at once reestablishing the artistic, cultural, and social tradition of jazz while creating an entirely new jazz language for the 21st century.”
In a collaboration with New England Conservatory's Jazz Orchestra, Grammy nominee, Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellow, and NEC faculty member Miguel Zenón brings his quartet for the first New England performance of his first big-band, multimedia production. Based on the split identities of Puerto Rican Americans, "Identities Are Changeable" builds on the critical success of Zenón's 2011 recording Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook.
Saxophonist/composer Zenón is joined by pianist Luis Perdomo, bassist Hans Glawischnig, and drummer Henry Cole, along with the NEC Jazz Orchestra conducted by Ken Schaphorst. Video comes from David Dempewolf, who worked with Jason Moran on the "In My Mind" project, which the Boston Phoenix's Jon Garelick has called one of 10 "Head Turners" from 2012.
Zenón did his own fieldwork for tonight's project, interviewing New Yorkers of Puerto Rican descent, focusing on their experience as second-generation Puerto Ricans. The conversations centered on a single question: what makes a Puerto Rican a Puerto Rican.
As Zenón notes:
“There is, of course, no correct answer, but the many answers and impressions that came from these conversations eventually served as the main source of inspiration for the music on this piece. Video images and audio clips from these interviews interact with the music and make a case for the fact that national identity can be multiple and changeable—that in many cases our nationality can be within us, no matter where we’re from or the language we speak.”