Editor’s Pick · Album of the Month ·
When the album Jane Bunnett and Maqueque was released in 2014 it seemed to suggest that the celebrated soprano saxophonist and flutist Jane Bunnett, already at the height of her powers, was exploring an unusual musical space. That record immediately suggested that Bunnett – and her producer-husband – had found a group of young Cuban women whose artistic wavelength mirrored their own. Certainly the musicians breathed as one, shaping music with utmost unanimity of purpose and flexibility. Always anticipating a brilliant surprise from Jane Bunnett, one was still apt to wonder what on earth she would come up with next.
With Oddara Jane Bunnett and Maqueque make it clear that the debut album was just the audition piece. This is the real deal. The wonder of Bunnett and Maqueque’s playing is how engagingly, articulately, flowingly and creatively the ladies pour themselves into this remarkable music that, in its molten Afro-Cuban-Jazz state, is ‘the same’ but also very different. To begin with there is a sexy new inner beauty that defines the musical aesthetic on Oddara. It is reflected in the evocation of mellifluous creativity and wide-ranging stylistic tastes with an emphasis beautiful melodies swathed in intense colours, swinging with relentless rhythm.
The sweeping poetry of Jane Bunnett’s work on both the soprano saxophone and the flute is sung in a manner that is both youthful and erudite, informed by contemporary musical idioms fused into her kinetic phasing with naturalness and authenticity. Her infectiousness is telling and has a magical effect on her younger colleagues. Their responses, however, are much more than those of sympathetic collaborators. Each member of the group applies elegant shadings to Bunnett’s impassioned and expansive lines as they imbue every vibrantly dramatic song with fierce energy from the tender moments of ‘Song For You’ to the coruscating passages ‘Tres Golpes – Pa Eleggua’.
It was once suggested – and most appropriately so – that Duke Ellington’s instrument was his group. With this second album from Maqueque, the temptation to say the same about Jane Bunnett is all too real. Throughout Oddara one gets a sense of the elemental seamlessness of the music as the revelry in the tone – both lustrous and sleek – seems to beat with a singular heart. Such a vivid interplay among musicians, so keenly attentive to the wonders and mysteries of each other’s music was once heard in the music of the original, legendary Cuban group, Anacaona. The luminous manner of the music on Oddara is eerily reminiscent of that all-woman group.
That suggestion, no matter how audacious it may sound today, will certainly be borne out in the music to come from this remarkable group of musicians.
Track List: Little Feet (for Cassie and Kerry); Dream; El Chivo; 25 New Moves; Song For You; Power of Two (Ibeyi); La Flamenca María; Eulogy; Tres Golpes; Changüi del Guaso; Café Pilón.
Personnel: Jane Bunnett: soprano saxophone, flutes and whistling; Yissy Garcia: drums; Dánae Olano: piano and vocals; Magdelys Savigne: percussion, batá drums, congas and vocals; Elizabeth Rodriguez: violin and vocals; Celia Jiménez: bass and vocals. Special Guests: Melvis Santa: claves and vocals; Dayme Arocena: vocals (courtesy of Brownswood recordings).