Jane Bunnett & Hilario Duran – Cuban Rhapsody – Alma Records ACD67112 [Distr. by Universal] *****:
(Jane Bunnett, flute & soprano sax/ Hilario Duran, piano)
If you’re into Afro-Cuban jazz and aren’t aware of Canadian flutist, soprano saxist and bandleader Jane Bunnett, you’re missing out. Just as with some of the earliest North American musical explorers into Brazilian jazz, she has been involved in Cuban jazz for decades (first visiting the country in 1982) and won Canada’s Juno Award in 2009 for Best Contemporary Jazz Record. There is even a feature documentary film on her life, Embracing Voices.
Here’s just Jane and her two instruments plus Cuban friend and pianist Hilario Duran, who now makes his home in North America. They adopt a leisurely pace in a session of ten tracks devoted to the Cuban equivalent of America’s Great Songbook. Both were classically-trained and both are familiar with the wide spectrum of Cuban music as well as modern jazz. The combination spells a most enjoyable and authentic-sounding session even though it was recorded in Toronto – not in Cuba.
The disc opens with two son tunes by Miguel Matamoros, has an original by Duran, plus two pieces by Cuba’s famous composer Ernesto Lecuona. Bunnett switches between her two instruments as appropriate to the particular tune in question. Duran speaks in the note booklet of his memories of hearing jazz and classical Cuban music while he lived there. The musical partnership of the two performers is a total success.
Lagrimas Negras, Son de la Loma, Longina, Quirino Don Su Tres, Contradanzas, Maria la O, Almonds, New Danzon, Sherezada, Danza Lucumi.
– John Henry