Miguel Zenón was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. While studying at the Escuela Libre de Musica in San Juan, he won a scholarship to the Berklee in Puerto Rico program of the Berklee College of Music and a scholarship to attend Berklee College in Boston. While at Berklee, Zenón became immersed in jazz and began performing with drummer Bob Moses Mozamba and the Either/Orchestra. After completing his undergraduate degree, Zenón moved to New York, where he was awarded a scholarship to the Manhattan School of Music, graduating with a Masters Degree in 2001.
After gaining initial attention as a sideman in the ensembles of Ray Barretto and David Sánchez, Zenón organized his own band in 2001, featuring pianist Luis Perdomo, bassist Hans Glawischnig and drummer Antonio Sanchez (replaced in 2005 by Henry Cole). The quartets first recording, Looking Forward, was released by Spains Fresh Sounds/New Talent label in 2002. A year later, Zenón became one of the first artists signed by saxophonist Branford Marsalis new label Marsalis Music, which has subsequently released Ceremonial in 2004; Jibaro, an homage to the rural folk music of Puerto Rico composed with grant support from the New York State Council of the Arts, in 2005; and Awake, a collection of original compositions in which Zenóns quartet is supplemented by a string quartet and horns, in 2008. In addition to his own quartet, Zenón has maintained affiliations with several other leading jazz groups, including the SFJazz Collective, of which he is a founding member; Charlie Hadens Liberation Music Orchestra; and Guillermo Kleins Los Gauchos. Zenón has also participated extensively in jazz education programs, including the New School in New York, Canadas Banff Centre and the touring Marsalis Jams program.
Among his many awards, Zenón was named a Kennedy Center Jazz Ambassador and toured West Africa in 2003, won the Rising Star Alto Saxophone award in the Down Beat Critics Poll in 2004-6 and 2008 and the Best New Artist award in the JazzTimes Readers Poll in 2006, and received a Guggenheim grant to compose an extended work on the subject of Puerto Rican plena music in April 2008. He was one of 25 recipients of a MacArthur Foundation genius grant in September 2008. His 2009 release, Esta Plena was nominated for a Grammy as Best Latin Jazz Album.
Miguel is signed to the Cambridge, MA based record label, Marsalis Music.