The Cuban Connection Continues With Juno Win For Best Jazz Album Of The Year (Group)
TORONTO – Now a five-time JUNO Award winner, two-time Grammy nominee, and Officer of the Order of Canada, soprano saxophonist/flautist Jane Bunnett has brought the soul of Cuba to the hearts of Canadian music-lovers in a big way. Along with her new, exquisite all-female sextet, Jane Bunnett and Maqueque, she revealed the band’s fresh sound and unveiled the new self-titled CD – now a JUNO winner for Best Jazz Album of the Year (Group) category – with summer festival stops throughout Canada and the U.S. For more information visit www.janebunnett.com
Already a national treasure, Jane Bunnett is always busy creating music, touring and championing Cuban artists. Her love for the intricate folkloric Afro-Cuban rhythms spurred her on to begin blending them with contemporary jazz sounds. It’s an ongoing passion for her and her husband, trumpeter Larry Cramer and Bunnett has been credited with introducing a lot of great Cuban musicians to North American audiences over the past couple of decades, including Dafnis Prieto, Yosvanny Terry, Pedrito Martínez and David Virelles. Her latest project is an assembly of all-star Cuban musicians, a sextet which includes herself and five extraordinary young females.
Jane Bunnett and Maqueque (pronounced Mah-KEH-keh), toured Canada followed by a US stint. Maqueque band members are Jane, on flute and soprano sax, virtuoso drummer Yissy García, dynamic vocalist Daymé Arocena, Yusa on tres guitar and fretless bass, pianist Dánae Olano, and Magdelys Savigne on batás and congas.
The album is a rhythmic and vocal feast, with thick and lush arrangements that at times foray into frenzied montuno improvisation and vocal scatting, such as in the title track “Maqueque.” A very fitting name, when loosely translated it means the energy of a young girl’s spirit. Certainly it’s also fitting for the band, since all of the young women are actually in their early ‘20s except, Jane and Yusa. The group’s fresh and highly accessible take on jazz vocalization – as on the cover of “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone,” featuring the stylings and deep resonant voices of Daymé Arocena and Yusa, which are reminiscent of morna/fado chanteuse Cesária Évora – stirs the soul especially when blended with Bunnett’s mournful yet sensual soprano sax riffs.
There are a couple compositions by Daymé, such as the tres guitar-driven Afro-Cuban track “Canto a Babba,” highlighting a call-and-response theme, interwoven with effortless, playful soprano sax and vocal lines throughout. Another gem is her “Guajira S. XXI,” which also showcases a similar sprightly yet haunting vibe, again with the dulcimer-like tres guitar, but this time with intricate flamenco-like clapping rhythms, soaring flute and no vocals at all.
It’s a beautifully voice-laden album, (they all have tremendous singing voices), but driven by the propulsive intense rhythms of drummer Yissy Garcia and percussionist Magdelys Savigne. There are also tracks that accentuate the piano, like the song “Mamey Colorao,” a quirky 1940s Cuban piece composed by the late great Cuban ivory-tickler Pedro Peruchín. The JB & Maqueque version is quite different in arrangement, but pianist Dánae stays somewhat truer to the Peruchín original while the other players take flight.
A smooth but lively cha cha cha number, “De la Habana a Canada,” literally drives home Bunnett’s idea of permeating our Canadian musical landscape with intoxicating Cuban sounds from Havana.
The pièce de résistance, however, is the last track, “Song for Haiti,” which incorporates mellow, soothing flute, urgent horns courtesy of frequent collaborators, Toronto’s Heavyweights Brass Band, and swirls of strings that lead in to a sultry spoken word piece by Cuba’s most celebrated female rapper/poet, Telmary Diaz.
The 10-track album was mixed and mastered by David Travers Smith and recorded in Abdalá and Egrem studios in Cuba, in Toronto at Canterbury with Jeremy Darby, Found Sound with David Travers Smith, Number Nine studios with George Rodina, and for the song “Song for Haiti,” Green Door with John Critchley.
Upcoming Toronto Dates
May 6-9 – Jazz Bistro, 251 Victoria St, Toronto / (416) 363-5299
For more information, photos, mp3s, advanced CD copies, interviews, please contact: Beverly Kreller SPEAK Music
firstname.lastname@example.org | 416.922.3620
Bobby Sanabria MULTIVERSE Big Band to release new recording: “Vox Humana”
Celebrating 25 years! The multi-Grammy nominated Bobby Sanabria MULTIVERSE Big Band is set to release their new recording: “Vox Humana” featuring vocalists Janis Siegel, Antoinette Montague, Jennifer Jade Ledesna.
Recorded Live at Dizzy’s Club Cola in NYC
Release Date: Spring 2023
Record Label: Jazzheads
New York – January 18th – On the heels of their Grammy nominated and 2019 Jazz Journalists Association Album of the Year Award winning critically acclaimed masterwork, West Side Story Reimagined, and in celebration of their 25th anniversary – drummer, percussionist, composer, arranger, bandleader, educator, Bobby Sanabria and his Multiverse Big Band return with their most ambitious work to date, VOX HUMANA.
Bobby states, “Over the course of our many Grammy nominated albums we’ve occasionally featured tracks with vocals. But I’ve always envisioned doing an entire vocal album framed by the Multiverse Big Band. Now with three of today’s greatest contemporary singing talents – multi-Grammy award winner Janis Siegel from the Manhattan Transfer, blues and jazz Queen Antoinette Montague, and the multilingual powerhouse, Jennifer Jade Ledesna, today that vision has finally become a reality.
The individually distinct voices that Janis, Antoinette, and Jennifer possess make them each unique. But the X factor they all have is they are all masterful improvisors in the best sense of the jazz tradition. Added to the mix is our great conguero, Oreste Abrantes, who also sings lead on two tracks. Having that multi- dimensional vocal talent framed by the power, nuance, and tonal variety that only a big band can provide, combined with the repertoire I’ve chosen to showcase them and the band and the incredible variety of Afro- Latin, straight ahead swing, funk, R&B, and rock rhythmic vocabulary that we are masters of and readily have at our disposal in the Multiverse, I believe VOX HUMANA will prove to be our greatest achievement.
That repertoire has a personal meaning to me as I see VOX HUMANA as a biographical work. I’m a product of my environment. I’m a Nuyorican, a person of Puerto Rican descent growing up in New York City. In my case the South Bronx during a time period when pop, jazz, R&B, rock, funk, and Latin music of all kinds all co-existed as equals. It was the last era when the big bands of masters like Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Buddy Rich, Machito, Tito Puente, Tito Rodriguez, Don Ellis, and more were in the public eye, and they became my heroes. Vocalists who could deliver a message with subtlety, nuance, and when needed, power, were called upon to deliver poetry crafted by genius song writers. You’ll hear all that and more through the soaring vocals and improv talents of Janis, Antoinette, and Jennifer, along with Oreste, as well as the incredible jazz-oriented arrangements and exciting Pan Afro-Latin rhythms played by a big band that literally takes no prisoners when it hits the stage.”
The repertoire Bobby speaks of includes 1 original and 12 unique re-workings of pop hits like Spooky, Christine Aguilera’s Genie In a Bottle, and Steely Dan’s Do It Again; NEA Jazz Master Eddie Palmieri’s, Mi Congo and Puerto Rico along with the island’s greatest composer, Rafael Hernandez’s, Capullito De Aleli; the classic Joe Cuba R&B bolero, To Be With You; Brazilian standards Partido Alto and Amazonas; and from the world of Broadway theater, I Love You Porgy, and the iconic jump blues, Let The Good Times Roll. The CD also includes an original message bearing piece, Who Taught You That, as well as what may possibly be the most exciting interpretation of the Ellington associated classic, Caravan, and that has ever been recorded.
Adding to the excitement of the performance, VOX HUMANA was recorded in front of a live audience. Bobby states, “As with our previous work, we recorded VOX HUMANA live at NYC’s Dizzy’s Club Coca – Cola. My musicians represent NYC’s finest. That means they’re the greatest in the world. The added level of excitement created by the audience inspired us in the MULTIVERSE Big Band to a heightened new level of performance virtuosity that listeners will hear explode out of the speakers just as the audience at Dizzy’s experienced in person.”
The history of the Bobby Sanabria MULTIVERSE Big Band is indeed one based on his rich multi-cultural heritage as a Nuyorican growing up in New York City’s South Bronx. His concept of having a big band that has no genre boundaries with limitless possibilities was forged 25 years ago back in 1998. It has yielded a series of groundbreaking, critically acclaimed albums that have all been Grammy-nominated with the band thrilling audiences worldwide at venues like the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, The Ravinia Festival, Verona Jazz Festival in Europe, and more.
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