Juan Alzate, a renowned jazz saxophonist from Mexico, is a prominent figure in both the performance and educational spheres of jazz music. His musical journey is marked by substantial achievements and collaborations, making him a highly respected and influential artist in the jazz community, particularly in Latin America.
Alzate’s educational background is comprehensive and diverse. He studied at prestigious institutions such as the Escuela Popular de Bellas Artes, Conservatorio de Las Rosas, and the world-renowned Berklee College of Music in Boston. His instructors included notable figures like Jim Odgren, Bill Pierce, Hal Crook, and he had private studies with Jerry Bergonzi. Further enriching his education, Alzate attended a course by Dave Liebman at East Stroudsburg University. His commitment to education extends to his teaching roles at various institutions, including Conservatorio de Las Rosas, Michoacan State University, Escuela DIM in Mexico City, and currently at Queretaro State University at the Fine Arts School. Besides, he frequently conducts masterclasses and concerts across Mexico and other Latin American countries.
Juan Alzate’s performance career is highlighted by his collaborations with a multitude of esteemed artists. He has shared the stage with Mark Levine, Antonio Sánchez, John Benítez, Ignacio Berroa, Bruce Forman, Greg Osby, Muhal Richard Abrams, Hugh Fraser, Paquito D’Rivera, Luis Perdomo, Bobby Watson, Helen Sung, Boris Kozlov, and Rodney Green, among others. His ability to blend seamlessly with musicians of various styles is a testament to his versatility and skill as a saxophonist.
Alzate’s discography is impressive, featuring ten CDs that showcase his artistic range and depth. His albums include “El eco en la piel,” “Bajo el signo del jazz” (with Mark Levine), “Autorretratos,” “Hablar en Jazz,” “
Jugadores de Jazz,” “Minnewanka” (recorded at Canada’s Banff Centre of Arts), “Premonición,” “El jazz y la furia,” “Variaciones,” and “En el Conservatorio…” (also with Mark Levine). These recordings reflect his post-Coltrane aesthetic and demonstrate his ability to navigate different jazz styles, from avant-garde to more traditional forms.
Juan Alzate is also the artistic director of Jazztival, one of the most significant jazz festivals in Mexico and Latin America. His leadership role in this festival since 2003 underscores his commitment to promoting jazz culture and providing a platform for musicians to showcase their talents.
Alzate’s international reputation is solidified by his performances in various countries, including Argentina, Honduras, Venezuela, Mexico, Peru, Costa Rica, China, Taiwan, USA, and Canada. He has performed with diverse ensembles ranging from big bands and symphonic orchestras to jazz and salsa groups, as well as contemporary academic music ensembles. This wide range of collaborations highlights his adaptability and the universal appeal of his musicianship.
Juan Alzate’s philosophy as a musician is centered on the universality of music and the connections it fosters. He believes in the power of music to transcend cultural boundaries and bring people together. This belief is echoed in the numerous accolades and positive reviews he has received from critics and peers alike. For instance, Vitaly Menshikov from Uzbekistan’s Rock Progressor Review praised his album “Autorretratos” as a masterpiece, and David Dupont from Cadence Magazine highlighted its reflection of his post-Coltrane aesthetic. Additionally, Antonio Malacara from Mexico City’s newspaper La Jornada recognized Alzate as one of the best and most important saxophone players in the Mexican jazz scene.
Juan Alzate’s career is a remarkable blend of artistic excellence, educational contribution, and cultural impact, making him a leading figure in the world of jazz saxophone.
Page last updated 1/14/2024.