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Jane Bunnett & Hilario Duran: Cuban Rhapsody

Edward Blanco By

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Torontonian flautist/saxophonist Jane Bunnett joins forces with Cuban-born, Toronto-based pianist Hilario Duran for a special duet recording, exploring the Cuban equivalent of The Great American Songbook on Cuban Rhapsody. Containing a full range of Cuban music, from Ignacio Cervantes to Jose Maria Vitier, the classically trained duo breathes new life into much of this classical-rooted music. At the same time, it would be a mistake to categorize this as a strictly classical album, for it does contain certain elements of jazz shining through on pieces like Miguel Matamoros' opening "Lagrimas Negras (Black Tears)," "Sherezada," and Duran's own "New Danzon." As the perceptive liner notes state, "This is jazz in its broadest sense, a question of attitude and intent rather than harmony and improvisation per se."

The two forge the perfect musical marriage for this unique endeavor drawing on Duran's natural cultural background and Bunnett's career-long exploration of Afro-Cuban rhythms, a passion developed after a 1982 visit to Cuba. Bunnett gives equal time to flute and soprano saxophone here, while Duran matches her solos with a virtuosic flair that reveals his training and appreciable chops.

The album's centerpiece is the five-part "Contradanzas," with Manuel Saumell's writing comprising the majority of the parts. Also included is a tribute to Cuban bassist and mambo inventor, Israel "Cachao" Lopez, on the duo's take of "Almendra," as well as a creative rendition of "Quirino Con Su Tres" and a beautiful, dark-toned version of "Danza Lucumi," both from famed Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona.

The album offers a relaxed atmosphere, presenting beautiful classical Cuban music in a classical jazz mode. Cuban Rhapsody documents what Bunnett and Duran have been doing for years—performing music they are both passionate about, and feeding off each other's musical energy to carry the date without accompaniment. Well done.

Track Listing: Lagrimas Negras (Black Tears); Son de la Loma: Longina; Quirino Con Su Tres; Contradanzas; Maria la O; Almendra; New Danzon; Sherezada; Danza Lucumi.

Personnel: Jane Bunnett: flute, soprano saxophone; Hilario Duran: piano.

Title: Cuban Rhapsody | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Alma Records

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