Jane Bunnett And Maqueque – Justin Time JTR8586-2, 50:19 ****:
(Jane Bunnett – flutes, soprano sax, piccolo, marimbula, voice; Daymé Arocena – voice; Magdelys Savigne – batas, congas, percussion, voice; Yissy Garcia – drums; “Yusa” – bass, tres guitar, voice; Celia Jimenez – bass, voice; plus special guests)
In 2004, when Canadian June Bunnett was appointed to The Order Of Canada, the country’s highest civilian honour, the accompanying citation read in part: ”An internationally acclaimed musician, Jane Bunnett is known for her creative integrity, improvisational daring, and courageous artistry.” In this current release Jane Bunnett And Maqueque, she continues to demonstrate that she has not deviated from those attributes that were outlined in the citation.
Working with five other female musicians plus some invited guests, Bunnett and friends, search out the character and spirit of Afro-Cuban music.The fascination with this music is not new for Bunnett as she has been exploring these rhythms since the early 1980s, despite innumerable obstacles that the Cuban government placed in her path. This session was recorded and mixed in Havana in 2013 with some post-production work carried out in Toronto, Canada.
The blending of rhythms and voices throughout the album provides a sumptuous listening experience starting with the opening track “Papineau,” which has Bunnett’s soprano sax integrating with the voices in an effortless fashion. On the title track “Maqueque” which is pronounced (Mah-keh-keh) Bunnett’s lush arrangement works exceedingly well as her flute dives and swoops with energy over a background of scatting voices.
Bill Withers’ Grammy award-winning R&B song “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone” is lead by Bunnett’s soulful soprano sax, with the vocal interpretation picked up by Daymé Arocena and “Yusa” in a doleful fashion that gives a new meaning to the tune. Although it is quite clear that the heart of this album is the combination of wonderful singing voices exhibited by the band members, there are other gems on the disc. Pianist Hilario Duran, for example, is featured on “Mamey Colorao” an original tune by the Cuban pianist Pedro Justiz. The cha-cha form is not neglected on the album as Daymé Arocena has penned “De La Habana A Canada” which strives to bring Cuban musical sensibility into a Canadian frame. The closing track is “Song For Haiti” features Toronto’s Heavyweights Brass Band, and has a spoken word rap from Cuban poet Telmary Diaz, each of which is artfully incorporated by Bunnett into a seamless whole.
TrackList: Papineau; Maqueque; Tormenta; Guajira S.XXI; Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone; New Angel; Mamey Colorado; Canto A Babba; De La Habana A Canada; Song For Haiti