“Happily, there are two new charts on this double CD. The first is “Gotcha”, a delightful song that mixes the New Orleans dirge with an ecstatic B side to the song. And then there is “After Rain, Comes Sun,” featuring an ethereal recitation by the Cuban rapper, Telmary Díaz. Both charts bring Bunnett together with a brass/winds ensemble, The Heavyweights Brass Band, whose empathy with Bunnett is sensational.”
When is it right to produce an artist’s retrospective? There appears to be no fixed timeline. Some appear to be much too short and a bit vacuous. For others it takes much too long. The latter is the case for Canadian soprano saxophonist and flutist, Jane Bunnett who has spent the past 30 years forging a rare and enduring relationship with the music and the musicians of Latin America, notably Cuba. Unlike many musicians who have rushed into so-called fusion projects with the music of that region, Bunnett has guided her singular jazzy rhythms into gentle collisions with the ritmo of son and danzón, charanga and bolero, samba and Maracatú of Afro-Cuban and Brasilian music. As a result she has produced eighteen magnificent albums including two with the great pianist Don Pullen, one with brilliant Paul Bley; another with the ingenious pianist Hilario Durán; one featuring the enigmatic genius, Frank Emilio Flynn and one sharing the stage with several masters of the flute including the effervescent Cuban, Orlando “Maraca” Valle.
These two CDs also have selections from The Water is Wide, a gem of an album, but sadly not one of the vocal tracks shared by the inimitable vocalists, Sheila Jordan and Jeanne Lee. Neither is there a track from Bunnett’s debut album on which she somehow managed to snare the tragically hip drummer, Claude Ranger. But CD2 does feature an extraordinary track from Rendez-vous, a Brasilian-Cuban album featuring the mystical Machado Brothers—Celso and Filo. There is a superb version of the Navajo Peyote Chant, “Witchi Tai To” from Bunnett’s award-winning Red Dragonfly (aka Tombo album. Another marvelous album, Radio Guantánamo: Guantánamo Blues Project Vol.1 is represented by the spectacular “Changüi Para Alfredo”. There are two aching elegies: one is “For Merceditas,” the late, spiritual Cuban musician and the other is “Don’s Light” – the latter from an utterly brilliant album Spirits and Dedications that features the piano maestro, Stanley Cowell, saxophonist Dewy Redman, trumpeter husband, Larry Cramer and others.
From her earlier work, perhaps the most memorable track Charlie Parker’s “Donna Lee”, a rhythmically complex and challenging chart which roars—and soars mightily—with the Santiago Jazz Saxophon Quartet and the Conga-Comparsa Los Hoyos de Santiago de Cuba, from a nearly forgotten gem of an album, Alma de Santiago. The chart “Amor Pa’ Ti” will forever recall the free spirit of the great Merceditas Valdés. And the track from Bunnett’s award-winning vocal album, Embracing Voices features the soulful Canadian vocalist Kellylee Evans together with the immortal Grupo Vocal Desandann. There are also tracks from Bunnett’s seminal “Cuban flights of fancy,” Chamalongo and possibly her finest albums Cuban Odyssey, which features prodigious Cuban percussionist, Tata Güines and Spirits of Havana that glorified the other master percussionist, Guillermo Barreto Brown.
Happily, there are two new charts on this double CD. The first is “Gotcha”, a delightful song that mixes the New Orleans dirge with an ecstatic B side to the song. And then there is “After Rain, Comes Sun,” featuring an ethereal recitation by the Cuban rapper, Telmary Díaz. Both charts bring Bunnett together with a brass/winds ensemble, The Heavyweights Brass Band, whose empathy with Bunnett is sensational.
It would be remiss not to mention Bunnett’s trumpet playing husband and producing partner, Larry Cramer, who only appears to play a subordinate role in all of Bunnett’s projects. In reality, Cramer, a quixotically affable Svengali has been instrumental in not only co-authoring several charts, but also producing all of Jane Bunnett’s projects. Cramer has also been wrongfully accused of messing up some of Bunnett’s charts with sub-standard trumpet work. In reality, he is a fine instrumentalist, who plays well within himself and embellishes Bunnett’s work like a master-chef who plants the secret ingredient into a dish fit for the gods. As a producer and with Mundo: The World of Jane Bunnett, Cramer does not disappoint either and has produced yet another memorable album for his wife and star, Jane Bunnett.
CD1: Gotcha; Kaleidoscope; Witchi Tai To; For Merceditas; Yo Siempre Oddara; The Real Truth; El Diablo; New Orleans Under Water; Osain; Changui Para Alfredo; Please Don’t Ever Leave Me; Serenade To A Cuckoo; Chamalongo: Sunshower.
CD2: After Rain, Comes Sun; Joyful Noise; Alma de Santiago; Rendez-vous; Don’s Light; Son de la Loma; Song for Argentina; Amor Por Tí; Donna Lee; You Don’t Know what Love Is; The River/El Rio.
CD1: Jane Bunnett: soprano saxophone, flutes; Jorge Torres “Papiosco: congas (1); Heavyweight Brassband: Jon Challoner: trumpet (1); Chris Butcher: trombone (1); Paul Metcalfe: tenor saxophone (1) Rob Teehan: Sousaphone (1); Lowell Whitty: drums (1). Larry Cramer: trumpet, flugelhorn (2, 6, 7, 10, 12); Don Pullen: piano (4, 6, 12); Merceditas Valdés: vocals (5, 13), Ahmed Barroso : guitar (5); Hilario Durán: piano (5, 9, 13, 14); Kieran Overs: bass (5, 6, 8, 12); Guillermo Barreto: timbales (5); Ernesto Rodríguez: tumbas (5); Grupo Yoruba Andabo: vocals, percussion (5); Billy Hart: drums (6, 12); Jeanne Lee (6); Los Naranjos de Ceinfuegos (7); Kevin Breit: guitar (8), Jalidan Ruiz Castro: congas, timbales (8), Johnny Sansone: guitar, harmonica (8); David Virelles (8, 10); Roberto Occhipinti: bass (9); Dafnis Prieto: drums (9), Pancho Quinto: congas (9); Lucumi: congas (9); Howard Johnson: tuba (10); Dewey Redman : tenor saxophone (10); Grupo Changüi de Guantanamo: vocals (10); Paul Bley (11); Carlitos del Puerto: bass (13); Tata Güines: congas (13); Yosvany Terry: tenor saxophone (13); Frank Emilio Flynn: piano (13); Gregorio “El Goyo” Hernández: vocals (13); Ernesto “El Gato” Gatell: vocals (13); Amadeo Dedeu: vocals (13), Pancho Quinto: percussion (13); Maximino Duquesne: percussion (13); Aspirina: percussion (13); Marcos Diaz Scull: percussion (13); Lázaro Rizo Cuevas: percussion (13); Rodolfo Chacon: direction, vocals (13); Orlando “Maraca” Valle: flute (14); Céline Valle: alto flute (14); Oscar Rodríguez: bass: (14); Roberto Vizcaíno: timbales (14); Juan Carlos Rojas “ El Peje”: guiro (14); Adel González: tumbadora (14).
CD2: Jane Bunnett: alto flute, flute (4, 6, 9),Piccolo; marimbula, soprano saxophone: (2, 5, 7); Telmary Díaz: vocals and lyrics ( 1); Hilario Durán: piano, percussion (1, 2, 4, 11); Heavyweight Brassband: Jon Challoner: trumpet (1); Chris Butcher: trombone (1); Paul Metcalfe: tenor saxophone(1); Rob Teehan: Sousaphone (1); Lowell Whitty: drums (1). Larry Cramer: trumpet, (2, 3, 7, 9, 10, 11 ); Dafnis Prieto: drums (2, 11); Roberto Occhipinti: bass (2, 11); Ernesto “El Gato” Gatell: vocals (3, 11); Njacko Backo : kalimba, vocals (2); Dean Bowman: vocals (2); Pancho Quinto: cajon, voice (2); Lucumi: congas, vocals (2, 11); David Virelles: piano (3); Los Jubilados: coro (3); Eduardo “ Tiburón” Morales: vocals (3); Conga-Comparsa Los Hoyos de Santiago de Cuba: congas (3); Filo Machado: guitar (4); Carlitos del Puerto: bass (4, 6, 8); Celso Machado: assorted percussion (4); Stanley Cowell: piano (5); Tenor saxophone: Dewey Redman (5); Kieran Overs: bass (5, 7, 10); Mark McLean: drums (5); Dean Bowman; vocals (5, 11); José María Vitier: piano (6); Frank Emilio Flynn: piano (6, 8); Gonzálo Rubalcaba: piano (7); Guillermo Barreto: timbales (7); Roberto García: vocals, Percussion (7); Grupo Yoruba Andabo: vocals, percussion (7); Tata Güines: congas (8); Yosvany Terry: tenor saxophone (8); Gregorio “El Goyo” Hernández: vocals (8); Ernesto “El Gato” Gatell: vocals (8); Amado Dedeu: vocals (8), Pancho Quinto: percussion, cajon (8, 11); Maximino Duquesne: percussion (8); Aspirina: percussion (8); Marcos Diaz Scull: percussion (8); Lázaro Rizo Cuevas: percussion (8); Rodolfo Chacon: direction, vocals (8); David Virelles: piano (9); The Santiago Saxophon Quartet (9); Los Hoyos de Santiago de Cuba: vocals (9); Don Pullen: piano (10); Billy Hart: drums (10).
Jane Bunnett – Official website: www.janebunnett.com
Label: EMI Music Canada
Release date: February 2012
Reviewed by: Raul da Gama