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Jane Bunnett: Cuban Odyssey

Jim Santella By

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Traditional Cuban music and upbeat modern jazz go together like ice and water: one serves the other’s purpose in turn, while their union stands apart as a natural wonder. And where would we be without ice water?

Jane Bunnett’s Cuban adventure takes her on a journey outside the city limits of Havana to places such as Matanzas, Cienfuegos and Camag?ey: south and east of her previous encounters on a round-trip that covers over 600 miles. With a core ensemble that includes standout soloists such as Thommy Rojas, David Virelles and Larry Cramer, the leader explores modern interpretations of Afro-Cuban jazz. Her sultry horn and passionate flute carry the music to extremes in temperament, from slow and dreamy to fast and furious. Her soprano saxophone remains the focal point of the album.

”El Diablo,” features a mariachi-like folkloric group in cha cha cha celebration of its cultural heritage. The lead trumpeter and tres provide appropriate scenery for these exciting voices. Bunnett joins Los Naranjos de Cienfuegos mid-stream with a fiercely driven solo statement. If she were a politician, she’d have all the voters writing in her name on the ballot. The melding of American and Cuban cultures proves quite successful. “Nan Fonn Bwaa” features Bunnett’s full-toned flute in a lovely ballad setting with the ten-voiced a cappella Grupo Vocal Descendann. The traditional tune resembles early music of the Church. Similarly, traditional anthems “Alabans” and “Prizon” evoke America’s early history. These examples of folkloric music from Camag?ey have much in common with the folk music of colonial America. Elsewhere, Bunnett and company fire up the afterburners to ignite a program that’s sure to satisfy jazz lovers the world over.

Track Listing: Arrival; Quitate El Chaquet?n (Take Off Your Jacket); A la Rumba; Suite Matanzas (Swingin? in the Solar); Pensando en Jane (Thinking of Jane); El Diablo (The Devil); Nan Fonn Bwaa; Alabans; Prizon; Ron con Ron (Rum with Rum); Movin? On.

Personnel: Jane Bunnett- soprano saxophone, flute; Larry Cramer, Thommy Rojas- trumpet; Papa Oviedo- tres guitar; David Virelles, Hilario Dur?n, Guillermo Rubalcaba- piano; Palma, Roberto Occhipinti, Carlitos del Puerto, bass; Francisco Mela- drums; L?zaro Banderas, Pancho Quinto, Marcos D?az, Tata G?ines, Maximino- congas; Jos? Luis Quintana ?Chang?ito,? Ra?l Hern?ndez- timbales; Vladimir Pais?n- bata drums, corneta China; Nene, Ernesto Gatell, Caridad, Santa Cruz, L?zaro Rizo, Don Pancho Terry, Bobby Carcass?s, Merceditas Vald?s, Amado Deudeu Sr., Amado Deudeu, Jr., Chabalongo, Goyo- vocals; and Los Mu?equitos de Matanzas on ?Suite Matanzas;? Los Naranjos de Cienfuegos on El Diablo;? Grupo Vocal Descendann de Camag?ey on ?Nan Fonn Bwaa,? ?Alabans? and ?Prizon.?

Title: Cuban Odyssey | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Blue Note Records

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