How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Equal parts ethno-musicological study and experiment, Cuban Odyssey offers a captivating investigation of native Cuban music as interpreted by flautist and soprano saxophonist Jane Bunnett and her husband, trumpeter Larry Cramer. Latin influences have been prominent in jazz since at least the 1940s, with new evidence suggesting that Afro-Cuban and other Latin based structures were integral to jazz from its genesis. For this reason alone, Jane Bunnett’s release represents something quite fascinating, as it allows listeners to hear a wide variety of Cuban music in its native forms. More than this, however, Bunnett’s skillful compositions and astute playing draws the listener into a sensuous, rhythmically energetic musical world.
In some ways the culmination of Bunnett and Cramer’s life-long involvement with Cuban and Afro- Cuban music, Cuban Odyssey consists of eleven quite diverse pieces. Ranging in mood from the solemn to the hymnal to the celebratory, the album presents a large variety of collaborating musicians, including drum corps, choirs, and individual instrumentalists. Most intriguing, Bunnett gathered these musicians from throughout Cuba, venturing into areas relatively isolated from the global media market, and thus possessing quite distinct regional variance. (As a Canadian, Bunnett does not suffer the restriction of movement American researches and musicians confront.)
Working with such a heterogeneous mix of musicians within a variety of settings, Ms. Bunnett shows herself a compelling and flexible instrumentalist on both soprano sax and flute, as does Cramer on trumpet. Unlike some Latin jazz players, Bunnett never allows her soloing to move on top, or over, the rhythmic backing, instead integrating completely with the other musicians, changing inflection and tone to suit the mood. Whether building striking lines, or interjecting subtle phrases, Bunnett explores the possibilities of each setting without imposing a singular vision. The result is a rare and exquisite exploration brimming with inventiveness, energy, and a friendly, collaborative mood.
Track Listing: 1. Arrival 2. Quitate El Chaqueton 3. A La Rumba 4. Suite Matanzas 5. Pensando En Jane 6. El
Diablo 7. Nan Fonn Bwaa 8. Alabans 9. Prizon 10 Ron Con Ron 11. Movin' On
Personnel: Jane Bunnett: soprano saxophone, flute; Larry Cramer: trumpet.
Plus numerous guests.