On September 15, 2022, Jane Bunnett and Maqueque performed their first show in Toronto in more than 3 years at the legendary club El Mocambo. On September 20-23 they recorded their exciting new project, Playing with Fire, which captures the cutting-edge evolution of this award-winning ensemble, while making new inroads into the Afro-Cuban tradition that brought them together a decade ago. Playing with Fire will be released on March 10, 2023.
Jane Bunnett, Soprano Saxophone and Flute
Yissy García, Drums
Tailin Marrero, Bass & Vocals
Joanna Majoko, Vocals
Dánae Olano, Piano & Vocals
Mary Paz, congas & vocals
YouTube Video – Jane Bunnett and Maqueque: Playing With Fire Promo
Five-time Juno Award winner, Jane Bunnett has turned her bands and recordings into showcases for the finest musical talent from Canada, the US, and Cuba. She has been nominated for three Grammy Awards, received The Order of Canada, The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, and, most recently, The Premier’s Award for Excellence.
With Maqueque, Bunnett has created something new and phenomenal in the world of jazz. What started out almost ten years ago as a project to record and mentor young brilliant Cuban female musicians, has become one of the top groups on the North American jazz scene. Since 2015, they have played in major jazz festivals like Newport and Monterey, been featured on NPR’s program Jazz Night in America, won a Juno Award for their first album, Jane Bunnett and Maqueque, were nominated for a Grammy Award for their second release, Oddara and were nominated for a Juno Award for their latest release, On Firm Ground/Tierra Firme. Most recently, were voted as one the top ten jazz groups by the prestigious DownBeat magazine’s critics poll.
An internationally acclaimed musician, Bunnett is known for her creative integrity, improvisational daring, and courageous artistry. Her exploration of Afro-Cuban melodies expresses the universality of music, and her ability to embrace and showcase the rhythms and culture of Cuba has been ground-breaking. She has toured the world bringing her own special sound to numerous jazz festivals, displaying her versatility as a flutist, saxophone player, and pianist.
Two documentaries have been made about Bunnett’s work: Spirits of Havana by the National Film Board was presented at numerous film festivals internationally, on television (CBC, PBS), and in Europe. A more recent film, Embracing Voices, has been shown at film festivals and is awaiting commercial release.
As an educator, spokesperson, and social activist, Jane remains unafraid to explore uncharted territory in her quest for excellence.
“A conversation at the outset of a new era for female jazz musicians and Cuban culture’s global impact.” – Christopher Loudon, Jazz Times
“The celebrated Canadian soprano saxophonist is embracing voices again… Bunnett is back with an exquisite new ensemble of vocalists and instrumentalists named Maqueque, which means…’the spirit of a young girl, in the ancient Afro-Cuban dialect.’” – Raul da Gama, latinjazznet.com
“Jane Bunnett has long been-established as one of our most important jazz and world music artists. The multi-instrumentalist/composer/bandleader has dug deep into the treasure trove of Cuban music, and does so again on brilliant new project Maqueque.” – Kerry Doole, newcanadianmmusic.ca
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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