Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Jazz Caliente: Puerto Rican Innovator, Brenda Hopkins Miranda

Pianist Brenda Hopkins Miranda
courtesy of the arist/
Pianist Brenda Hopkins Miranda

This week on Saturday Jazz Caliente, we'll hear a selection from innovative pianist and composer Brenda Hopkins Miranda.  Her sixth album is Puentes? (bridges), and with this recording she succeeds in her intent to bridge differences in musical styles, traditions, languages and generations.

Born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Brenda heard music from all over the world.   She began piano lessons at age 5, and was still in high school when she was admitted to the Conservatoria de Música de Puerto Rico, from which she holds a Bachelor's Magnum cum Laude degree in Classical Piano. 

She was also awarded a Berklee College of Music scholarship, has a Masters degree with honors in Contemporary Improvisation from the New England Conservatory, and completed Doctoral Studies in Musicology at the Universidad de Granada in Spain.

All of that hefty education gave her an enormous toolbox for doing what she instinctively knew she was meant to do:  reject stylistic boundaries, focus on improvisation and blend multicultural sounds.

Puentes? is Brenda's first album that is not based on her own compositions, and it's her first time recording with vocalists.  Puentes includes fresh takes on Puerto Rican and American classic songs, and the instrumentals veer gleefully into surprising new places. 

Listen for "Muéveme El Cafecito" from Brenda Hopkins Miranda on this week's Saturday Jazz Caliente.  We'll also hear Steve Turre's sanctified shells and some Afro-Peruvian grooves courtesy of Gabriel Alegría, and we'll take a ride on the Badlands Express with Pacific NW vibraphonist Dan Duval.

Here's Brenda Hopkins Miranda explaining why the album is called Bridges (with English subtitles).

Jazz Caliente airs Saturdays at 5:00 p.m.  The show is hosted by Robin Lloyd and produced by KNKX Public Radio.

Originally from Detroit, Robin Lloyd has been presenting jazz, blues and Latin jazz on public radio for nearly 40 years. She's a member of the Jazz Education Network and the Jazz Journalists Association.