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Jane Bunnett's Spirits of Havana


It was delightful to hear Jane Bunnett and her Spirits of Havana again at the Bird of Paradise on March 15. The soprano saxophonist/flutist hires musicians of high quality and plenty of Cuban spirit. This time she came to town with trumpeter Larry Cramer, pianist Jackie Warren (from Cleveland), and three Cubanos: bassist Roberto Occhipinti, drummer Francisco Mela, and congero Luisito Oregboso. Bunnett and Cramer have written and arranged most of the music, which is an intriguing and personal version of Afro-Cuban jazz.

"Havana Jane" was the most interesting soloist, but she did not hog the limelight and gave ample time to everyone else. She opened up with a wonderful flute solo in the vein of Roland Kirk, followed by some mellow fluegelhorn by Cramer. Most of the first set she treated us to her full-toned soprano. Warren provided the required muscular piano for the occasion, while Oregboso and Mela laid down a solid but shifting rhythmic groove. Oregboso was also the main vocalist for the evening.

Unfortunately I had to leave as several members of the Los Munequitos de Matanzas troupe (in town at Hill) walked into the Bird to participate in the festivities. I can understand why they came and why they came back the next day. This was the real stuff!

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