Published Jul 14, 2014Much of the stellar reputation of Canadian jazz and world music heroine Jane Bunnett has been based on her passionate and adventurous explorations of the treasure trove that is Cuban music. She returns to the island with well-received new project Maqueque. This pairs the veteran composer/bandleader/multi-instrumentalist with six talented young female Cuban musicians and singers. (The word "maqueque" means "energy of a young girl's spirit.")
The results are both strongly rhythmic and melodic, with Bunnett's signature airy flute and soprano sax work blending sweetly with the vocalizations of Dayme Arceno and Yuisa, as on the lovely title track. The album was recorded in Havana last year, with long-time Bunnett collaborator Larry Cramer contributing typically clean production. The songwriting is primarily split between Bunnett and Arceno, with Maqueque also bringing fresh life to Bill Withers classic "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone."
The final track, "Song For Haiti," is something of an add-on, being reprised from the earlier Jazz for Haiti fundraising project. Still, it's a fine song and cause, and it features such T.O. notables as Telmary, Hilario Duran and Heavyweights Brass Band. Frequent collaborator Duran contributes string arrangements elsewhere, while Eliana Cuevas and Jeremy Ledbetter also guest. Jane Bunnett and Maqueque is another solid and enjoyable addition to the large and impressive Bunnett discography. (Justin Time)