Published Oct 17, 2016Canadian-Cuban sextet Jane Bunnett & Maqueque — "Mah-Keh-Keh" being the Afro-Cuban dialect word that translates to English as "the energy of a young girl's spirit" — continue the jazz throughline established on their standout 2014 self-titled debut with the sophomore effort, Oddara.
Featuring soprano saxophonist/flautist Bunnett and a lineup that includes Cuban artists Yissy Garcia on percussion, Dánae Olano on keys, Magdelys Savigne on batá drums and congas, Elizabeth Rodriguez on violin and vocals and Celia Jiménez on bass, the 11-track Oddara is a celebration of Afro-Cuban traditions. Guest spots from breakout vocalist Dayme Arocena, along with Melvis Santa on percussion and vocals, serve to liven up an already-energetic ensemble.
The energy of "Dream" and "25 New Moves" pulsates, "The Power of Two" stands tall in its truth and "Eulogy" maintains an appropriately introspective tone. Despite English not being the band's native tongue, the reworking of Leon Russell standard "A Song For You" gets the job done, and despite threatening to veer into muzak, "Changui del Guaso" acquits itself with its unpredictable piano-driven energy. As a whole, Jane Bunnett & Maqueque bring the Afro-Cuban jazz goods here, so deserved props should soon follow. (Independent)