Miguel Zenon journeys into his Puerto Rican identity, via jazz (via Chicago Tribune)

The exceptional alto saxophonist Miguel Zenon didn’t talk much about his Puerto Rican heritage after he moved to New York at age 19.

Though the musical impulses and folkloric traditions of his homeland long have coursed through his art — winning him a richly deserved MacArthur Fellowship in 2008 — it wasn’t until recent years that he began addressing the subject of his identity head-on in words as well as music.

To create his 2014 album “Identities Are Changeable,” Zenon interviewed several Puerto Ricans living in New York, then wove snippets of their dialogue into a complex and lustrous original score for large jazz ensemble. As striking as that album was, however, it couldn’t fully express the depth of Zenon’s investigations, since listeners heard but brief interview fragments amid a swirl of music-making.

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