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Embracing Voices

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Album Review

Canadian Jane Bunnett has distinguished herself as a soprano saxophonist and composer over a long period. Following her collaborations with the late pianist Don Pullen she was drawn to Cuban music, so she regularly incorporated it into her compositions and frequently used Cuban instrumentalists and vocalists. This session is a bit different from her earlier dates, as its main focus is on the Afro-Cuban/Haitian ten-voice a cappella choir Grupo Vocal Desandann, who piqued her interest with their inventive harmonies and ability to handle challenging rhythms. These spring 2008 sessions feature traditional Cuban and Haitian songs and originals by Bunnett with various lyricists, along with an original plus a surprising arrangement by fellow Canadian Don Thompson, who alternates between bass, piano, vibes, and marimba. Bunnett co-wrote the tricky "Kaleidoscope" with lead vocalist Kellylee Evans, a rhythmically complex piece with many sudden chord changes that Evans and the musicians master easily. Bunnett's lighthearted soprano and pianist David Virelles are briefly featured in the traditional piece "Wongolo," a showcase for Grupo Vocal Desandann. "If You Go Away" (written by Jacques Brel and poet Rod McKuen) is hardly the kind of piece that one would expect to hear on a jazz date, let alone a Cuban-flavored session, but Thompson's infectious arrangement and Molly Johnson's Billie Holiday-flavored vocal carry the day. Jane Bunnett continues to prove that jazz readily absorbs the best elements of any form of music with this fine effort.


Born: October 22, 1956 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

One of the finest soprano saxophonists in jazz of the 1990s, Jane Bunnett originally studied classical piano but tendonitis cut short that career. After seeing the Charles Mingus group in San Francisco, Bunnett was inspired to play advanced jazz. On soprano, she recalls Steve Lacy a bit (who she has studied with), while her flute playing is quite distinctive. Bunnett has always had major players on her records: in addition to her husband, trumpeter Larry Cramer, the late pianist Don Pullen had been...
Full Bio
Embracing Voices, Jane Bunnett
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music, Latino
  • Released: Aug 05, 2008

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