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Saxophonists Miguel Zenón and Mario Castro return to the Gallery stage this Thursday, August 7th, 2014, for the third of four installments of The Jazz Gallery Mentoring Series, Vol. 1, Edition 2. Their final performance in the series will take place next Thursday, August 14th, 2014.

We’ve already posted the first half of our conversation with Miguel and our conversation with Mario; here’s the second half of our conversation with Miguel:

The Jazz Gallery: When you work with younger musicians, what do you hope to impart to them? 

Miguel Zenón: In terms of teaching, I see myself as someone who’s had specific experiences and has a specific point of view about a lot of things. It’s not necessarily something that’s right or wrong—it’s what I could share, so when I’m working with younger musicians, I’ll share what I feel has worked for me. But, at the same time, I feel that music education and jazz education in general is still a great platform for acquiring information, especially in this age when there’s so much information out there and so much stuff that you can work on.

If you think about 50 years ago when Sonny Rollins and Charlie Parker were working on their stuff, their process had to be totally different. They didn’t sit in a classroom listening to somebody teach them harmony; they had to figure it out on their own or in a community. Today it’s a lot more like you feed yourself information and hope that you find opportunities to put it into practice. It’s not replaceable, though, with experience on the bandstand, getting to play and getting experiences with older musicians, going through struggles on the bandstand—like real-life musical situations that you’re not going to get in school.

In school you’re comfortable: you’re in a combo with people who listen to the same records, you do concerts, and it’s really good. But, at the same time, I think it’s important for younger students and musicians to know that the eventual reality is going to be different. When you’re not in school you’re going to have to deal with responsibilities on your own and not just as an assignment, or get better because you have a test. It has to become a lifelong thing where you’re committed to getting better.

At the same time there’s all this stuff connected to being an artist. This is how you’re going to make a living, so you have to be on top of that: you have to know how things work, you experience situations where you’re going to have to say, “Okay, this is my job. I’m going to have to take this seriously from that point of view, also,” and, to tell you the truth, I wish it wasn’t like that.

When we started playing music, we played it because we liked it and we were in love with the music; it didn’t have to do with how much we were going to get paid, but eventually, because it becomes your line of work, you have to consider that, also.


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Called a “perceptive young pianist with one foot in postbop and the other in Latin jazz” by The New York Times, pianist Robert Rodriguez can be seen performing with the Rodriguez Brothers, a band he co-leads with his brother, trumpeter Michael Rodriguez. On the brothers’ most recent release, Mood Swing (2010), bassist Carlos Henriquez and drummer Clarence Penn join the Rodriguez brothers in realizing tightly arranged original compositions (listen to samples from the recording here and watch the EPK here).

Robert has also been an in-demand sideman, having worked in trumpeter Arturo Sandoval’s band for a number of years (Rodriguez is featured on Sandoval’s Trumpet Evolution, a collection of carefully reconstructed, canonical jazz trumpet recordings) and with artists such as vibraphonist Joe Locke (hear Rodriguez on Locke’s 2008 release Force of Four). Below is a video of Rodriguez performing with Locke at Uèffilo Jazz Club in the town of Gioia del Colle, Bari, Italy (Rodriguez’s solo starts around 2:50):

The Robert Rodriguez Quartet performs on Wednesday, August 6th, 2014, at The Jazz Gallery. The performance features Rodriguez on piano, Chad Lefkowitz-Brown on saxophones, Jorge Roeder on bass, and Ludwig Afonso on drums. Sets are at 9 and 11 p.m. First set is $15 general admission and $10 for Members. Second set is $10 general admission and $5 for Members. Free for SummerPass Holders. Purchase tickets here.