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Jane Bunnett: Alma De Santiago

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No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Traditional music from Cuba covers a lot of territory. With vocal soloists and chorus, lively charanga flute features, a stellar jazz saxophone quartet, and a 38-piece percussion ensemble, the session stands on familiar ground. However, this is not mere traditional folkloric music. Bebop jazz and Afro-Cuban actions weave an exciting tale of ceremony and a history of ambassadorial reunions. Whether marching to an ancient cadence or quoting from "Salt Peanuts," the Cuban artists Bunnett has enlisted interact with her flute and soprano saxophone seamlessly. Recorded in Santiago de Cuba, the session offers proof that music is, indeed, THE universal language. Pianist Geovanis Alcántara, trumpeter Carlos Thomas, bassist Roberto Occhipinti and pianist David Virelles stand out for their passionate solo work. Bunnett's leadership serves as a cohesive force. Her fluid saxophone and high-flying flute provide lyrical moods and joyful celebration. "Black Tears," for example, contrasts with "Donna Lee" as an opposing force. Highly unique and carrying the Cuban tradition, the classic up-tempo bebop piece wears clothes of a different texture. "Lágrimas Negras," meanwhile, stirs passionately as a soulful ballad. The title track summarizes Bunnett's intentions by balancing swinging jazz and spiritual Afro-Cuban tradition in equal shares. Recommended, Alma De Santiago casts aside political barriers and lets the people speak freely.

Track Listing: Funky Mambo; Son Santiaguero; Almendra; Jane and Los Hoyos; La Comparsa; Camaroncito Seco; L

Personnel: Jane Bunnett- flute, soprano saxophone; Larry Cramer- trumpet, flugelhorn; Carlos Thomas- trumpet; Geovanis Alc

Record Label: Blue Note Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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