From the opening selection of Miguel Zenón's Awake, his fourth CD as a leader, the alto saxophonist demonstrates his diverse musical mind. His originals show surprising maturity, with the individual pieces sounding like part of a larger work, while Zenón's imaginative solos also belie his tender years. The melancholy "Awakening Prelude" provides a subtle introduction with a string quartet accompanying him. His quartet, with pianist Luis Perdomo, bassist Hans Glawisching, and drummer Henry Cole, is added for the "Camarón," a dizzying Latin number incorporating some hot bop licks, including a hilarious brief detour into Bud Powell's "Parisian Thoroughfare." "The Missing Piece" is a brooding ballad, with the piano accompaniment suggesting someone pacing the floor. "Awakening Interlude" is wild free jazz, augmenting the quartet with tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby, trombonist Ben Gerstein, and trumpeter Michael Rodriguez. The extended work "Santo" initially has a Middle Eastern flavor, with Glawisching playing an unusual arco bassline beneath Zenón's haunting alto, though the piece frequently changes tempo and mood. "Third Dimension" begins with a repeated angular riff, then switches gears, blending elements of hard bop and Latin jazz, culminating with an infectious rhythm, plus a sax theme that is carried over into his unaccompanied finale, "Awakening Postlude." It is little wonder that Miguel Zenón has attracted so much attention during the early part of his career with such strong outings such as Awake.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden