Jane Bunnett: The Spirit's Dancing in the Flesh!
Spirits of Havana (Pimenta Records, 1991) is one of a kind; one that gives much to the leading edge of Cuban musical thought as it does to the overall language of jazz. The Santeria unleash the heralds... the 'bata' and other drums and the chants call down the gods of the Yoruba, while Jane Bunnett's flute snakes a path through the drummingplaying beautifully off the tonal variety of the variety of drums... this sets the stage for the liturgical hymn of the 'Lukumi' and the spirits are drawn out of the skies by the greatest proponent of Santeria ritual musicthe late Merceditas Valdes. She is the album's center of gravity... its attendant 'Lukumi' spirit throughout the record. Her husbandthe late Guillermo Barettowho died shortly before Spirits was completed was the guiding light of the project. Baretto composed one of its most enduring tracks, the angular "Yo Siempre Oddara," especially for Jane Bunnett. We keep returning to 'Lukumi' liturgyespecially the flute and piano swirl of "Yemaya Asesu"and much more as the album dances on to the high energy of Cramer's "La Luna Arriba," a Coltrane-esque romp into the sacred space of the Santeria and the 'Lukumi' drummers led by the tumbas of Baretto and the flaming keyboard work of Gonzalo Rubalcabaone of three piano masters featured on the record (the others are the formidable Frank Emilio Flynn and Hilario Duran Torres). Jane Bunnett's flute and saxophone are positively molten, melding into Cuban snakes as if to propitiate a 'Lukumi' sylph... The album boils over with liquid flames, into the melting pot of the spirits of Havana!
Divination... sacrifice... steady beat of tray and tapper until the more permanent backdrop of the carved motifs of the tapper and the tray constituting an artistic exegesis of the forces that shape the human experience and the universal needs in the quest for enlightenment!
Much is happening...Both Larry Cramer and Jane Bunnett with songs in their hearts and the music and musicians of Cuba constantly beckoning, are swept away for weeks and months... Cuba always on the molten horizon, Messers Bunnett and Cramer hunker down and focus on some projects that have been bubbling for some time!