Jane Bunnett / Cuban Odyssey
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Jane Bunnett
Cuban Odyssey
EMI Music Canada (www.janebunnett.com)

Since 1982, soprano saxophonist and flautist Jane Bunnett and trumpeter Larry Cramer, her spouse, have brought a jazz sensibility to the study and performance of traditional Afro-Cuban idioms, a steadfast pursuit whose enduring inspirations pervade Cuban Odyssey. In 2002, shadowed by a crew from the National Film Board of Canada, Bunnett and Cramer trekked across the island, hooking up with many notable collaborators, as heard on their award-winning documentary video, Spirits of Havana. Like prior collaborations with a small multitude of the island's leading innovators, Cuban Odyssey presents live performances from the film, and further material logged along the way, in an orchestrated tour-de-force of contemporary Cuban roots music.

Projecting the infectious vitality of the island's musical foundations, the many notable contributors include singers Merceditas Valdés (now deceased) and scat-master Bobby Carcassés, pianists Hilario Duran and Guillermo Rubalcaba, Papi Oviedo (tres), Changüito (timbales), the conga trio of Tata Güines, Pancho Quinto and Maximino, enduring son proponents Los Naranjos de Cienfuegos, rumba royalty Los Muñequitos de Matanzas, and Desandann, the lyrically haunting vocal group of Haitian descent from Camagüey, in eastern Cuba. The textured nuances of this recording make it one of the freshest, loosest and most erudite explorations of folk-inspired Cuban music in some time, conspicuous for its musical intelligence in a field rife with derivative labors. Cuban Odyssey embraces the son, rumba, Afro-Cuban-Haitian a cappella, descarga, jazz and beyond, performed with the assurance, communal joy, straight-ahead virtuosity and self-effacing spirit long characteristic of Bunnett and her artistic compañeros, remapping the multiple tributaries of Cuban expressive traditions in revelatory fashion. - Michael Stone

Available at cdroots

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