Merging a traditional Afro-Cuban spirit with the sound of acoustic mainstream jazz, Jane Bunnett and her Spirits of Havana have topped their previous projects. Since her 1992 Spirits Of Havana
album on the Denon label, the saxophonist/flutist has brought more than 40 Cuban musicians on tour with her in Canada and in the United States. In addition, she and trumpeter Larry Cramer have established the Spirits of Music project to raise money for the repair of broken musical instruments in Cuba’s conservatories. They’ve produced a documentary film about Cuban music that will be presented this fall and winter at various film festivals around the world. In the film, Bunnett and Cramer perform with contemporary groups from all over Cuba, from son montuno groups, a 38-piece conga band, and even a 10-piece a cappella choir that sings in Creole.
With Ritmo + Soul, trumpet and soprano saxophone work together on "Santos Suárez," as two interwoven voices playing in harmony. Bunnett’s lively C flute and Cramer’s muted trumpet make "Joyful Noise" with a laid-back mood supported by the band. Composed by the husband-wife pair, these two songs and "Francisco’s Dream" offer a mellow adventure through consonant scenes, applying unisons and octaves liberally. Equal parts traditional Afro-Cuban and mainstream jazz, the band’s sound gets a big boost from pianist Hilario Duran and bassist Roberto Occhipinti. Their solo work stands out as both complex and comfortable. Recommended, the 71-minute program has an appeal across genre boundaries.