1. La Linea (The Line-Up); 2. Monkey See, Monkey Do; 3. Momentum; 4. On Firm Ground; 5. Habana De Noche (Havana At Night); 6. Sky High; 7. The Occurrence (To Amelie); 8. Reêncuentro (Re-United); 9. Broken Heart;10. Mystery Of Jane’s House; 11. Pa’con Paz; 12. Musica En El Alma (Music In The Soul)
Jane Bunnett, soprano saxophone & flute; Dánae Olano, piano & vocals; Tailin Marrero, acoustic & electric bass & vocals; Yissy García, drums; Mary Paz, congas & vocals; Joanna Majoke, vocals. Special guests: Melvis Santa, vocals & percussion; Dayme Arocena, vocals; Nicole Nikki D. Brown, pedal steel & vocals.
Record label: Linus Entertainment, 2019
This album is a joy to listen to – Jane Bunnett and her group Maqueque are certainly on firm ground in an eclectic fusion of elements from Afro-Cuban rumba, Cuban son, comparsa, doowop, timba, and jazz, blues, soul, funk, samba and more.
The opening conga composition La Linea features exquisite vocal coros promising more riches to come (and they do). In fact the standard of playing is high across the board, with excellent vocal ensemble work, virtuosic sax and flute from Bunnett and ensemble fire and assertiveness. The warm sounding versatile bass of Tailin Marrero and imaginative ‘in the pocket’ piano grooves and solos of Dénae Olano (as for example on the track The Occurance (to Amelie) propel the band along with tight drumming from Yissy Garcia and Mary Paz on percussion. Bunnett’s flute playing demonstrates mastery of both jazz and Latin styles in a similar vein to work by jazz flute players such as Hubert Laws alongside Latin flute players such as Nestor Torres, Maraca Valle and Andrea Brachfeld and her sax playing is as wistful and expressive as that of Paquito de Rivera (especially on the romantic Habana de Noche [Havana at Night).
According to the sleeve notes this group started with a project to raise the profile of young women jazz players which has since developed over five years of touring and recording. This is clearly a collaborative venture with compositions from all the band members and the whole album brims with optimism and energy — brilliant work by Bunnett bringing this together in a creative and sisterly way.
These are top flight musicians with something to say — on tierra firme for sure — and offering musical gems that uplift the spiritsl — definitely something to help soothe the soul in these stressful times.
Review by Sue Miller
Sue Miller is Reader in Music at Leeds Beckett University and also bandleader of Charanga del Norte. Sue obtained a PhD in Cuban flute improvisation in charanga performance at the University of Leeds in 2011 having studied previously at the Universities of Leeds and York.
Dr. Miller taught at the University of Leeds and Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge before taking up a senior lectureship post at Leeds Beckett University in 2015. Her first book Cuban Flute Style: Interpretation and Improvisation (see review) was published by Scarecrow Press in 2014. Her forthcoming book for the University Press of Mississippi Improvising Sabor: Cuban Dance Music in New York (February 2021) looks further at Cuban flute improvisation and charanga performance in the USA.
From The Flute in Latin Jazz by Peter Westbrook, Jane Bunnett at minute 6:50
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